• 2017 Writing Goals Check-In: Mid-April

    Posted Posted by David Duhr in Inspiration     Comments 24 comments

    TL;DR version: Are you on pace to reach your 2017 writing goal(s), whether or not you made it public here? If so, congrats! Why not beat your chest about it in the comments section below? If not, why not? Is there anything any of us can do to help? And if you never did share your 2017 writing goal with us, it’s not too late! Simple finish this sentence in the comments section: “In 2017, I will ___________.”


    I don’t mean to hassle you or anything, but Tax Day is almost here, which reminds me that we’re more than one-third of the way through the year, which reminds me that it’s been a couple of months since we last checked in with each other about our 2017 writing goals.


    OK, so right around New Year’s Day a whole lot of us made public writing resolutions by finishing the sentence “In 2017, I will…

    “…finish my second book,” Marcia S. said.

    “…write my first book and read 50 books….and make time for exercise,” wrote Sharon M.

    “…have my book edited and finalize my manuscript,” wrote Emily M. “I will query agents as I’m reading books they’ve published. And as I’m receiving rejections (ha, ha), I will still write and look for inspiration in every corner of my world.”

    “…chain myself to that writing table upstairs and write until my gnarled hands compress into knots,” wrote Ken H.

    Well, Marcia? Sharon? Emily? Ken?

    And the rest of us? One-third of the way through 2017, are we one-third of the way toward our writing goals?

    If not, why not? What is going wrong, and what can we do to turn it around?

    Whether it’s to toot your own horn or ask your fellow WriteByNighters for help or advice, we want to hear from you in the comments section below.

    As for me, well, I never did set a firm goal/resolution. I’m not writing as much as I’d like to. But I am writing more than I did in 2016. I even formed a writing group. And I’m several chapters into a novel that may someday resemble something other than a formless pile of goop.

    It’s a start.



    WriteByNight co-founder David Duhr is copy editor and fiction editor at the Texas Observer and writes about literature 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 2016 writing project that you’d like a little help with, take a look at our book coaching, private 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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    John Liebling

    In 2017 I will finish my third draft. The editing process pushed the word count and page number higher than I thought it would become in 2016. 739 pages and 178,647 words. I am back to editing, only this time, the process will be a lot slower and painful. Is delete considered a four letter word? I was never very good at math. I wanted to create a unique world with unique characters and I believe I have succeeded. Now the difficult task, removing my precious words. I like to rhyme, done well, that’s sublime. My 2018 goal is to… Read more »

    David Duhr

    OK, you’re officially on the record. I will hold you to this! (Not that I expect to have to…)

    “Delete” is indeed a four-letter word, in some scenarios. Such as yours. Also, count the letters in “edit.”


    Well I guess I’m one who went Ughhhhh. I have yet to write more than a journal entry each day. My goal was to revisit my current work, collecting both literal and figurative dust and pick one to finish. I haven’t done it yet. I lack motivation I guess after working all day. I thought deactivating my facebook account would lead to more motivation but I’m not as far along as I had hoped. At least I pulled the plug there and do feel more inspired…as I review my journals from January, I do see more creative work emerging. Ideas… Read more »

    David Duhr

    Hi Leslie. Thanks for stopping by and sharing. I don’t know if this will help, but a few weeks ago we did a bit of exploring the lack of motivation to write after a long day of work: https://www.writebynight.net/abcs-of-writing/strategies/written-word-work-home/ I still haven’t found a consistent way to crack this problem, but I’m working on it. Is there a way to work around this, in your case? I’m not sure the situation, but is your goal to reread all of your WIPs to determine which is the one you care most about at the moment? Because if so, maybe getting up… Read more »

    Glynis Jolly

    I did not set any goals for this year. In fact, I never set goals per se. I decide to get going on something on the spur of the moment with the intention of following all the way through. Sometimes I make it to the finish line, sometimes I do not. I did hit a large ugly snag about two months ago though. I misplaced my motivation to keep on digging into the first revision of the first novel I wrote. [Told you about it in a prior comment of another one of your posts.] I put it on a… Read more »

    David Duhr

    Hi Glynis. Thanks for sharing. How has it gone with those revisions since you left this comment two days ago? (I’m too far behind!)

    I hope it’s going well. This whole saga is the kind of story that seems made for retelling on book tours and in interviews.

    Elizabeth Westra

    I’ve been doing some writing, but today I ran across some things I wrote ten or more years ago, and they were better–at least I thought so. Is there a way I can get my writing back on target and get my “grove” back? I have less time to use the computer now than I had back then, because I’m sharing it with a retired husband. I keep getting interrupted while I’m trying to write also. Should I rent an office or what? I’m getting frustrated.


    I would suggest investing in an inexpensive laptop rather than renting an office. Make it yours alone. Get a VPN as well, and you can go anywhere the distractions aren’t. I have been known to write in my car when it gets too chaotic in the house. Park by the river, bring a tasty sandwich, turn off the phone. Call it “alone time.”

    David Duhr

    Thanks for the tip, E. A VPN? I had to look that up. And by “the river,” don’t you mean “the canal”? But this is great advice. Mobility can be a writer’s best friend.

    Eleanor Gamarsh

    I like your idea for alone time mainly because i think it would/ could be inspirational for me to be outdoors sitting on a bed of moss beside a brook somewhere. I used to live in an area where a short walk would bring me to a place like that. I miss it.

    Barbara Mealer

    Give the retired spouse things to do and emphatically state that you needs x amount of time to work on a project without interruption. I also learned that headsets are wonderful. I turn on music, blocking out all distractions so I can work. I’ve also learned that 30 minute intervals keep my writing better so I planned breaks to ensure the spouse had attention and something else to keep him busy if planning on working more. I still prefer being alone and where I can only be distracted by the birds and occasional rabbit or the weather. I get alone… Read more »

    David Duhr

    Thanks for the advice here, Barbara. Compromising is a great course of action in situations such as Elizabeth’s. (And in most situations in a marriage, as it turns out…)

    Distracted by rabbits? I would love to write in a setting where my attentions are divided between writing and bunnies.

    David Duhr

    Hi Elizabeth. Thank you for stopping by and sharing this. E. and Barbara have some good advice. Talk to your husband, maybe hash out a schedule of some kind that’s mutually satisfying. But if the urge to write strikes during his computer time, what options do you have? Are you able to write by hand? Do you carry a notebook around with you? How about a tape recorder? At worst, you could speak your prose and/or ideas into such a thing. Here’s something I envy you for: you can reread your own work and find quality in it. Many writers,… Read more »


    I’m a broken record every year …..FINISH MY BOOK!!!

    David Duhr

    Well, even a broken record is right twice a day! No wait, that’s clocks.

    But here’s the thing: you’re working on what could be a long-running series of books. So in theory, every year for the rest of your life you might be saying “Finish my book.” Is that such a bad thing? All you can do is keep making progress.

    Bill McDaniel

    I’m a newcomer to WritebyNight. I had massaged my 5400-work short story over and over until it was nearly perfect (IMHO), and had submitted it to a dozen quarterlies and small presses. Result – rejection emails from all. I knew the story needed a good critique by someone with a writer’s sensibilities. Stumbling around Google I chanced upon the WritebyNight site, read about their assistance programs for writers at all levels, and decided to make contact. Soon thereafter my story was in the hands (via email attachment) of a WBN critiquer, and a week later it was sent back with… Read more »


    How exciting! Good luck to you.

    David Duhr

    Hi Bill. Oh heavenly day, when that YES comes in. But maybe too there have been, and will continue to be, other YES moments along the way. Like, “Have I finished this story to the best of my ability, and am I proud of it?” If you can answer YES to something like that, the rest is just gravy.

    I’m glad your experience with us has been such a positive one. Thanks for stopping by here and sharing it.

    Barbara Mealer

    So far, I’m on track with doing the last deep edits of the book I want to publish in June/July. I really do hate it when I learn new things and have to go back and change a book to incorporate the new learning. The good things is that the book will be better for the new things I’ve learned. The bad thing is that I’m not redoing part of what I thought was finished. I will say that it is taking longer due to increased work hours and less time working on my book. The good thing is that… Read more »

    David Duhr

    Hey Barbara. Increased work hours! Oh no!

    Sort of. With many writers I’d be worried about such a thing, but with you, nah. You seem to have the kind of focus that is nearly impossible to derail.

    Emily Martin

    Manuscript critiqued–check. Create website–check. Query letter (at least some basic template to work from)–check. Comp titles–some, but still reading to find better ones. Submit to agents–check x5. Rejections to date–2. Keep writing–well, that’s slowed down a lot. My finished “book” was so exciting to write that I couldn’t wait to spend time in that story, but my current WIP is not exciting me as much. I’m actually thinking of setting it aside and working on another idea. I’ve at least done a short story and several blogs in the meantime. So, the next goals–I found a good beta reader who… Read more »

    David Duhr

    Sounds like this is shaping up to be an exciting year, Emily. Keep on truckin’! Good luck with the agents and revisions and such; keep us posted.

    And how cool is it that on April 18 you’ve already knocked out all of your 2017 writing resolutions? And, I assume, you continue to “look for inspiration in every corner of my world”? Good work!

    Eleanor Gamarsh

    I don’t remember participating in the goal setting blog. If I did, I doubt that I have accomplished anything I said. Regardless, I did do a few positive things since January; Email discussion with writers group that had fallen slack in December ’16 because of different members difficulties. I got them to agree on a business meeting for today, this afternoon, April 24th. I worked my brain numb trying to fit in back story as suggested by Joan Dempsey of Revise With Confidence. Bought into her course on Revising Perspective which I am having a tough time with. The next… Read more »

    […] And/or perhaps you updated them in April, the last time we checked in with you. […]

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