• Halfway to 2020: Writing Goals Check-In

    Posted Posted by David Duhr in Inspiration     Comments 27 comments

    Discussion questions: Halfway to 2020, are you halfway (or more?) toward hitting your 2019 writing and reading goals? If so, congrats! If not, what obstacles are you facing? Have your goals changed? Has your approach changed? What do you hope for from the rest of 2019? Share your progress with us in the comments below.


    Summer is heating up, and so too, we hope, is your progress toward your 2019 writing and reading goals.

    A few of you stated your goals on our 2019 resolutions post and/or on our quarter-pole check-in. Others of you were still working on defining your goals. And some of you said you don’t have tangible goals but simply want to improve as writers and/or write more consistently.

    Are you making progress as a writer in 2019? What’s working this year and what isn’t?

    If you did make a definite resolution, are you on pace to hit it?

    What has been your biggest writing challenge in 2019, and what has been your biggest success?

    Let’s talk about it in the comments.


    And to keep myself honest, here’s how I’m doing so far on my four goals:

    Establish a writing routine

    Depends how you define routine. If by “routine” you mean “totally at random, sometimes for six days in a row, sometimes not once in several weeks,” then yes, 2019 has been a rousing success.

    I’m still writing more than I did in 2018, so I guess that’s an improvement. But I’m far, far, far from working within a routine.


    Finishing two books

    This will not happen. Nor is it something I said I will do. I just thought it’d be a nice idea to keep in mind.

    If I really get moving, I could finish a draft of my novel by year’s end. I’d be thrilled with that.


    Publish something

    Not yet, but I’ll have a book review in the July/August issue of the Texas Observer. It will be strange to see my own byline again, after such an intentionally long hiatus.


    Read more books that move me

    I’ve read a couple in the past few weeks, both from Stewart O’Nan: The Night Country and A Prayer for the Dying.

    The Night Country makes a perfect Halloween read, so remember that come autumn. Five teens are in a Halloween Night car wreck in a Hartford suburb: three die, one survives intact, and one suffers brain damage that renders him forever childlike. The story takes place a year later, the following Halloween, and focuses on the two survivors, the mother of the brain-damaged survivor, and the cop who was in pursuit of the car when it crashed.

    And it’s narrated by–get this–one of the dead teenagers, who, along with the other two dead teens, is forced to inhabit the same space as any living person who’s presently thinking about them.

    It’s spooky, very moody, atmospheric. And touching. And if you’ve read Last Night at the Lobsteryou’ll know what I mean when I say O’Nan brings alive Avon, Connecticut, with the same gorgeous style he does a Connecticut Red Lobster.

    And A Prayer for the Dying is a powerhouse of a novel. A murderous diphtheria epidemic sweeps through a small Wisconsin town, forcing the narrator, who acts as sheriff, undertaker, and deacon, to quarantine the town. But with a raging wildfire approaching from the west, he’s got to decide whether to allow the townspeople to flee and potentially spread the disease or doom them to stay in Friendship and go down with the flaming ship.

    Ugh. This book is brutal. Besides death and destruction, we get murder, necrophilia, and cannibalism. It is not a fun novel. But it is effective. And haunting, if you’ll allow me the cliche. And it’s narrated in second-person, which somehow works.

    I finished it late last night, and then turned back to page 1 and started again. This O’Nan guy is killing me, and I’ll be thinking about this book for a long, long time.


    Anyway. I didn’t plan for this to turn into a book review post. Mostly what I want to know is, halfway through 2019, how is your writing going? Let’s chat about it below.


    WriteByNight co-founder David Duhr is fiction editor at the Texas Observer and co-host of the Yak Babies podcast, and has written about books for the Dallas Morning News, Electric Literature, Publishing Perspectives, and others.

    WriteByNight is a writers’ service dedicated to helping you achieve your creative potential and literary goals. We work with writers of all experience levels working in all genres, nationwide and worldwide. If you have a 2019 writing project that you’d like a little help with, take a look at our book coachingprivate instruction and writer’s block counseling services. Join our mailing list and get a FREE writer’s diagnostic, “Common problems and SOLUTIONS for the struggling writer.”


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    Barbara Mealer

    Goals? What goals? Yes, I do remember them. I will get the one book out but the second one, I’m not so sure. My year went haywire when I had to sell my house in FL. I bought 40 acres here in Arizona and am working on getting the foundation done to build a house on it. I didn’t know all the work it entailed until the project was begun. I won’t be able to move into it until next year at the earliest, but that’s okay. The major problem is all the things I’ve got going which are time… Read more »

    Barbara Mealer

    I am totally stoked about having an actual office. I have the desk, got my new computer (A surface book2 as I couldn’t afford the MAC I wanted) and I do have plans for decor…like a solid wall of book cases so I can find the books I need when I need them…then there is the kitchen I’ll be able to actually cook in…yeah.

    My time slots do work. Because I love writing, I don’t delay it…well maybe a few things like revisions..lol.

    david lemke

    I’m behind on everything; reading wise, I’m at 11 out of 50, though I have 6 books partially read.
    Writing wise, I wanted to have Bad Fireplace in print. I still don’t have the cover photoshoped and Kindled.
    I am progressing in everything.
    I’m approaching 500K for views on Goodreads and I made a 50 yard pitch-shot birdie on the second time golfing this year. Yea!

    Barbara Mealer

    Congrats on the birdie and ll the views. I haven’t been able to read but one book a month…bummer, but I am getting some writing done.

    david lemke

    Every time I try to read at night, the new cat jumps up on my chest and wants some attention. Maybe if I could get this cat to read, I could get some reading done


    My main goal remains–to finish my novel (i.e., get the ms to the point where I can get it professionally edited). I’m pushing for October and am about halfway there. I, too, wanted to establish a writing routine and I have settled into one, for the most part. And I wanted to promote my writers group and gain some new members. That has been successful in that we’ve picked up four new members who are working out great. In addition to furthering the above, for the rest of 2019, writing-wise, I want to: (1) Push my writing activities into the… Read more »

    Elissa Malcohn

    Right now I’m on a creative writing hiatus, but I’m having a blast writing web and other material for a client, which uses a completely different part of my brain. My goals there are deadline-driven. I also continue my journaling (i.e., amassing “raw data”). Caught some great people-watching snippets as I nursed coffee in a diner while my car was in the shop yesterday. (Years ago I performed a storytelling-type journal entry at an open mic, after which the emcee — himself an excellent poet — told me he didn’t know you could include dialogue in a journal. Of course,… Read more »

    Elissa Malcohn

    I’ve been pronouncing it the first way. It’s a pun: the Japanese number for 9 is typically romanized as “kyu”. I finished reading book 45 before the end of June and that one was short: Ellen N. La Motte’s The Backwash of War (free download from Project Gutenberg). It’s a collection of no-holds-barred essays about her experience as a nurse during WWI. It was immediately banned in England and France and later censored in the US. I can see the wish not to read after spending the day with someone’s manuscript. It would be the literary version of a busman’s… Read more »

    Kendra Ashcraft

    I am making progress in some areas, but I’m not where I wanted to be at this point in the year.

    I’ve started a new blog and done some freelance editing and writing.

    I’m way behind on my fiction writing goals, sadly.

    I’m 14/55 on my reading goal.

    While there’s definitely been improvement, many days I lack motivation/discipline. Any tips? Also, my chronic illness messes with my plans sometimes. Just gotta keep chugging along, I guess. ?


    Well…. I haven’t achieved my goal of finishing the first draft of my novel by last Christmas. I think it is a good thing that I at one point tried to just give up on this book, and it won’t let me go. So I think that means it wants to live. I don’t really have goals for reading, although I would probably do myself a favor if I set a goal of one book at a time. I’m reading about five. My reading suffers from the same thing as my writing. I can go off on tangents forever. E.g.,… Read more »

    Barbara Mealer

    I must be weird because I see writing as my relaxation where my mind can wander and do all the things I can’t.


    No, you are not weird. Writing is indeed relaxing. It’s reining it in to a publishable form–rewriting–that is hard work for me. I like how you worded that, amazing what our minds can do.

    Hans De Léo

    Let’s see…
    1. Read 12 books during 2019. I’ve read 5, and halfway through the 6th.
    2. Finish and publish my second book. On pace to publish in August or September.
    3. Start up a novel review group. We’ve met 4 times. We still need more people, but hey, at least I’m not the only one going.

    I’d say I’m doing pretty good so far.

    Kenneth Harris

    My goal was to internalize three words: “Revise, revise and revise.” I have the first two wrestled to ground and now working on third. These are powerful words that when applied to writing can turn a mud pie into a fine edifice. They are easy to remember but I’ve found they require much discipline to apply.

    Kenneth Harris

    It’s something I need to really apply myself to. All future projects will get this treatment in full. Hemingway’s dictum that “first draft is crap” is distilled wisdom and I need to gulp that down.

    Would love your thoughts, please comment.x