• April 20, 2017: Your Writing Goals & You

    Posted Posted by David Duhr in Inspiration     Comments 13 comments

    Here comes a sentence so abhorrent that I suddenly feel the need to write it in verse so that I can have a break between the awful bits:

    Monday morning

    I stood on line

    At the post office

    For a “certificate of mailing”

    To send our quarterly taxes to the

    Internal Revenue Service.

    (N.b. In the Midwest we stand in line. Here in NYC, we stand on line. Is that a dominance thing? In line, you’re at the mercy of the line. “Get in line with the rest of us sheep and wait your turn. That’s right, all the way in the baaaaaaaaaaaack.” [Ugh, I’m so sorry about that.] On line, it’s like you’ve got things under control; you’re the one giving the mercy. “I choose to remain on line for now, but if I wanted to, I could skip all you turkeys and go to the front because I have that privilege and you all should thank me for not exercising it.”)

    (N.b. I still think the plural of turkey should be turkies. Turkies & monkies.)

    Well great, we’re right on track, as usual.


    Resolutions Schmesolutions

    Anyway, so as I waited for my turn to give gobs of money to the government, I reflected a bit on how one quarter (and change) of the year has passed, and I wondered if I’m one quarter of the way toward my 2016 writing goals. And then, because I love you all so much (and because I’m definitely *not* one quarter of the way toward my writing goals, and who wants to dwell on that), I started wondering if you are one quarter of the way toward your 2016 writing goals.

    Back in January — seems so long ago — I asked you to share your writing resolution in our little public forum. And lots of you brave souls did! Here’s a somewhat random sampling of the resolutions:

    “Write a book.” — Brenda H.

    “To write six essays.” — Lisa M.

    “To start submitting again” — Amanda

    “To have a complete draft of the next novel I’m working on by July” — Yi Shun

    Lisa, have you written one and a half essays? Brenda and Yi Shun, are you well into your books? Have you been submitting your work, Amanda? Well?!?!

    [Tweet “Are you one quarter of the way toward your 2016 writing goals?”]


    Give Yourself a Sign

    April 202The other day someone tweeted something (ah, exactitude!) like, “One year from now you’ll wish you’d started your book today.” That’s a great line — and I’d love to attribute it, but I lost it in Twitter’s constant shuffle. If you wrote that tweet and you’re reading this, let me know who you are and I’ll send an update and link to your account. (This is like a Missed Connections for writers. Ooh, there’s an idea in there somewhere. Maybe? No?) (No.)

    If you’re struggling to get started, print out a message such as the one above and post it in your writing space. Replace “book” with whatever you want to work on. Unless you want to write a book, in which case, replace “book” with “book.” (Flight of the Conchords, anyone?)

    “One year from now I’ll wish I had started my book today.”

    Better yet, put a positive spin on it!

    “One year from now I’ll be grateful that I started my book today.” If you present it to yourself as a foregone conclusion, it just may become one.

    [Tweet “Make a sign that reads “One year from now I’ll be grateful that I started my book today.””]


    Brag & Discuss

    If you don’t need such a sign because you’re really kicking 2016’s ass, then it’s probably time to brag about it. To brag in public, leave a comment below and let us all know about your success and, if relevant, where to find the results. (Lisa & Brenda & Yi Shun & Amanda, this means you!)

    If you’re shy, but not so shy that you don’t want me to know how you’re doing, drop me a line at david[at]writebynight.net

    If you’re struggling to get started, perhaps there’s something we can do to help?

    Here’s to hoping that the first quarter of the year finds you nipping at the heels of your writing goals. Better yet, finds your writing goals nipping at your heels, trying desperately to keep up.

    And I hope tax season wasn’t too painful.


    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. And join our mailing list, over in the right sidebar, for once-per-week writing goodies in your inbox. 

    Linked2WriteByNight co-founder David Duhr is copy editor and fiction editor at the Texas Observer and contributes regularly to the Dallas Morning News, Publishing Perspectives, the Observer and other publications.




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    B. Holloway

    One year from now I’ll be grateful that I started a new book two weeks ago! But this is really helpful, that’s a great sign to make. I like the inspiration posts you guys do, keep em coming! My resolution was to write a book this year, and since I just started one I’m definately NOT 1/4 of the way into it. But I’ve got momentum now and I think I’ll be able to stick with this one. But let’s see where I am in mid July…

    Wilson Low

    I’m from the Midwest (KS) and we say an even mix of “on line” and “in line.” But I say in. From now on, I’ll say on. I don’t want to be one of those turkies! I didn’t set any writing resolutions, but I may just do so for the rest of the year. Now that tax season is over. (Not that I wrote any poetry about it…) By midyear I will come up with five ideas for a book. By the three-quarter pole I will have chosen one and written an outline. By year’s end I will have started… Read more »

    Yi Shun Lai

    Oh. Oh. I love this post so, so much. Thank you for putting it up, and writing it, because it made me laugh so hard.
    My book is 16,000 words long. That’s why I have written 4,000 words of it to date.
    No. No. That is terrible. I will get on the stick. Meh. Thank goodness for WriteByNight. You keep us honest.

    Glynis Jolly

    Hi David I don’t have to file taxes quarterly, thank heaven. I did my taxes in February and have already received the refund. (I’m one of those poor ones who get some back.) I live in a small insignificant town in the hills of Tennessee right now so the line at the post office is just a way to chit-chat with neighbors. The saying, “stand in line” is also out west, which is where I’m from. Still, the “stand on line” idea is worth considering. It’s the power verses victim challenge. My WiP is in its twelfth scene. Even so,… Read more »


    I don’t think I left a resolution, but my goal this year is to finish and then shop a story collection. So far so good; most of the stories have been written (some from years ago), and I just need to take a last run through them. And then there are three, maybe four more I want to write between now and maybe midsummer. After that, agents and publishers. So I’m a lot further than 1/4 of the way to that, but the work began before 2016. Should all -ey words be pluralized -ies? Donkies? Some are already. Monies. Bogies?… Read more »


    I came here from your email newsletter and yes, that one is more succinct, but this is fun anyway. Cutting terrible sentences up into poetry is a great idea to ease some of the pain. I am on Book 3 of what I see as a 7 book thriller series, all of which I plan to keep self publishing. I want to have the 3rd book done by April 20/17, but I’m aiming for around July 4th holiday to have a working draft. And then at my July 4 bbq I can say You want to read my book, get… Read more »


    My goal was only to write more often in my journal, and so far so good. I’m trying Julie Cameron’s My Morning Pages, not everyday, but a few days a week. You just wake up and free write, keep the pen going until you hit a marker, without thinking about what you’re writing. So far so good.

    Would love your thoughts, please comment.x