• Quarter Pole Check-in

    Posted Posted by David Duhr in Inspiration     Comments 36 comments

    Discussion questions: One-fourth of the way through 2019, are you one-fourth of the way (or further) toward hitting your 2019 writing and reading goals? If so, congrats! If not, why not? 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.


    With recent hints (at least around here) that spring is right around the corner, and our calendars flipping from March to April, now seems like a good time to check in on our progress toward our 2019 literary goals.

    (Take a peek to see if you stated your goals in our 2019 resolutions post.)

    So: Are you making good progress toward your 2019 literary goals? Let me know below. What’s working this year and what isn’t? Are you writing with confidence or are you struggling with obstacles (or both)?

    As the season changes, how will your literary life change? Will you read and write more than you did over the winter, or are you more likely to read and write when the weather stinks?


    I’m sure you’re wondering how I’m doing with my own goals!

    As stated in the post above, mine were: establish a writing routine; finish the two books I’m working on (novel and memoir); publish something (how deliciously vague!); and read more books that move me.

    Establishing a routine: I haven’t done this. I’m not really even working on it. But I am writing more than I did last year, so I’m satisfied.

    Still, I’m sure I’d be writing even more with a routine. Probably it’s time to try again.

    Do you have a routine, or do you just wing it?


    Finishing two books: I’ve turned in chapters 1 and 2 of my novel to my writing group, have a third one written, and am easing my way into a fourth. I feel good about the progress I’m making, and the story seems to be coming together. (Partly because of the fun conversations we had about organizing your writing and organizing your notes. And yes, I’m using Scrivener now!)

    I haven’t touched my memoir. For now, I am OK with this.


    Publishing something: In January I accepted an assignment to review a novel that comes out in July.

    I haven’t written a review in three years, and I’m curious to see how it’ll feel. I read the book about six weeks ago, and am letting it sit with me. Sometime in April I’ll start reading it again, then I’ll write the piece, which is due in early June.

    And then in July, barring any weirdness, I’ll have my first real byline since January 2016. Eek!


    Reading more books that move me: So far, no luck. I’ve reread some things that move me, but that doesn’t count.

    The closest I’ve come is in graphic lit: Noah Van Sciver’s One Dirty Tree has some touching moments, but I don’t think it’ll leave a lasting impression.

    Tom King’s Mister Miracle (art by Mitch Gerads), on the other hand, may leave that lasting impression. It’s one of the best, and maybe the most affecting, comics I’ve read. But I’m on issue eight of twelve, so I’ll hold out judgment until I see how he wraps everything up.


    So, that’s how my 2019 is going. Now I want to hear about yours!


    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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    Bonnie West

    Ok. So. i have written NOTHING! what is wrong with me??? Go ahead…inspire me someone PLEASE!! A prompt, an inspiration, a threat! Whatever it takes. Short Story please. As for reading David Duhr mentioned Lincoln in the Bardo and I am flummoxed and amazed and astounded. Anyone else read it? There is my comment. Thanks!

    Barbara Mealer

    Bonnie, get that butt in the chair and write. Until you make it a habit to write every day, you won’t write. Waiting on the muse doesn’t work. Only by writing does the muse come and give you more ideas. Even if it’s only for a half hour, sit down and write be it about nothing more than how the sun is shining in the window, making you happy. (hmm, good start to a book or short story) If you want to be a writer, then write….daily.

    david lemke

    Sit in the chair but dont work. Instead write down ideas; the more half-baked the better; titles, character names, cleaver dialogue, situations, plot, actions, discripions of whatever. Also you might need a change of scenery. Take your laptop or a pen and notebook and go people watch at a restaraunt or park or art museum or somewhere. All these ideas need to be put in a writers file. When I’m stumped, I go through my writer’s file for idea sparks. I might or might not find something that I can use, but I genereally find something that sparks something new.… Read more »

    Bonnie West

    So thanks to the suggestions I just sat down and have been making myself write. or rewrite or doodle write everyday. Its BACK. thanks all.


    So so is how I’d describe my 1/4 year diagnosis for my writing. I’m doing a lot of editing of past projects, but nothing new has come into my mind-yet. That last word is my hope that something soon will.

    Barbara Mealer

    I will have one book ready for publishing in May, but I’ll not put it out until June as the end of May will be crazy and I’m going back to FL to get the rest of my things from there as I’m selling my house. The second book will take longer to get done, although it’s also in editing but slower as I’m doing it in smaller chunks. I’ve written a new book set in the early 1900’s. I plan on doing a second book focusing on her great granddaughter set in present day. I’ve begun editing my very… Read more »

    Barbara Mealer

    Not sure about more productive but I’ll be able to do some audiobooks due to the way the place will be set as my ‘office’ will be quiet. I’ll have fewer distractions which might help (or hinder) my work. I’m hoping to be able to quit at least one job which will allow me more productive where I can actually schedule more than one or two full working days. It’ll be nice to have place which isn’t in the middle of the ‘busy’ part of the house (living room with two dogs, a cat and a man who likes his… Read more »


    I started 2019 only with the writing goal of finishing my novel that’s been 10 years in the making. That is, I want to get it to a pro-editing level. I’ve made good progress on that, largely because I retired from the day job and so have more time. I believe I can finish the manuscript before September. I’ve also started another project that I want to be a series of “rapid release” novels. I have found that approaching my writing as a “job” where I start at a given time and work for a few hours, like I would… Read more »


    The desire to finish is my greatest motivation. It may be that 40 years of the day job ingrained a need for working on a schedule. My novel is mostly drafted but needs a couple of more scenes, and a few editing passes by me before I let a pro look at it.


    I came up with the story ten years ago when I was taking a correspondence course on novel-writing (Long Ridge Writers Group). It has evolved over the years much as you describe that yours has. Much of the process for me has been learning to write a novel, while I blogged, wrote short stories, worked a day job, raised a family, etc. I think I’ve reached some critical mass where I’m working better, and that’s why I’m thinking I can finish the novel this year.

    Kenneth Harris

    I’d say my writing progress to-date is going swimmingly; I’ve written several complaints, critiques and kudos to various publications and emailed long lost cronies and high school classmates with reminiscences that now far eclipse actual time spent together. (Nothing like the passage of time to add spice and adrenalin to remembered events). Ive worked on a short story (“worked” being entirely subjective here) about married car salesman turned preacher who has married church treasurer preggers and the radioactive fallout of jumping the fence as seen thru the eyes of a visiting nephew. I’m tormented with questions of originality in my… Read more »

    Kenneth Harris

    I’m hanging my writing hat on “…new ways of telling old stories.” Very uplifting to read that. (I’m very conscientious about keeping the Holden Caulfield out of the nephews mouth). Thank you David, much appreciated.

    david lemke

    A golden age of SF author said that the common denominator of all life is that it is surviving at some level. So there is only one plot? I don’t worry about plot. I assume it will show up as I write away! If it doesn’t make an appearance, I put the book or story on hold, work on something else until there’s a spark. “Bad Fireplace II” is waiting for the motivator, why must kids visit the possible hostile alien planet on the other end of a portal? Do I want another rescue? If someone wants to put all… Read more »

    david lemke

    Just got my computer back again. Computer was in the shop two and a half times; upgraded to windows 10 and lost lots of important programs. Some I won’t get back because of compatibility issues. I’m a little behind on some important stuff, but I’ll catch up. I didn’t fall behind on my writing since I’m still managing to put out 4 to 8 pages a week. I’m about 40 pages into a SF novel, “2084” a post limited nuke war and rebellions. Our hero and a not friend are taken for a ride with some aliens. Interplanetary intrigue and… Read more »

    Barbara Mealer

    OMG, you didn’t know about the audio function on the new word? I’ve had it for over year now. Before that, I used natural Dragon which has better voices which are less computerish. It’s a great function to get your rhythm and sound down. There is an advantage to having Microsoft 360 as you get all the newest upgrades with your subscription and it comes out cheaper than buying a new version when they upgrade. (It’s also tax deductible as a work expense.)

    david lemke

    It appears under the Review tab. or up on the top to the right of SAVE. I used to tape myself reading my work, but seldom played it back. That sucks up twice the time. There is a choice of voices tone and speed, though I don’t remember how I did that.

    david lemke

    Addendum; I didn’t mention my reading. My goal for this year is to read 50 books. I’m a little behind with only having finished reading nine. However, I am actually reading 60 different books at the moment.

    Bonnie West

    good goal!

    david lemke

    It’s not as weird as it sounds. I’ll often start a book and for whatever reason, it won’t feel like what I want to read right now, or I’ll put it down at some point with the expectation of picking it up at a later date. Because I’m on Goodreads, I started tracking down all the books that were started. Those made up most of the sixty. Now I find I reading through them haphazardly. For the most part, I read six books at a time. one in the living room, one (or more) in the bed room, an audio… Read more »

    david lemke

    Usually not an issue. Sometimes It might take me a few lines or a paragraph to remember what was happening. If I pick up a pizza and I have my ‘Waiting room book’ in hand, this sometimes happens and the pizza is ready before I get far.
    The weird thing is, if I get Alzheimer, no one will know. I don’t have a memory to start with, but I remember stuff I’ve read.

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