• A Midsummer Night’s Writing Goals Check-In

    Posted Posted by David Duhr in ABCs of Writing     Comments 17 comments

    TL;DR version: Now that we’re halfway through the year, it’s time to check in once again with our 2017 writing goals. Are you halfway, or more, toward your goal? Are you struggling, and if so, how can we help? Let us know in the comments below. And if you want to make a new goal, complete the following sentence: “In what’s left of 2017, I will________”


    OK, so we’re not quite to midsummer, and we’re a few weeks past Midsummer, but last week I realized that we’re about halfway through 2017. Because I’m a math genius. And being the caring, thoughtful, all-around swell math genius that I am, I began to wonder how your 2017 writing goals are going.

    Maybe you told us about them in January, when you completed the sentence that began “In 2017 I will________”

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

    Well now here it is July (gulp) and we’re just over halfway through the year (gulp), and so I think this is the perfect time to see where we stand.



    Barbara M., back in January you wrote, “I will publish two novels in 2017 and complete the drafts for two more.” We haven’t heard from you in a while, so I imagine that means you’re plugging away at your books. If so, yay!

    “I would like by the end of 2017 or start of 2018 to find a publisher.” John L., how is this shaping up? How’s that fourth revision coming along?

    Marcia D., you wrote, “In 2017, I will continue to see the word ‘revise’ not as a bad thing but helping me on my journey.” I know that journey is going well, Marcia. I hope you’ve banished all negative feelings about the word “revise.”

    “In 2017, I will write my first book and read 50 books,” is what you wrote, Sharon M., “and make time for exercise. After all that sitting, I’m definitely going to need the exercise.” This was one of my favorite 2017 goals. How is it going, Sharon?

    Cecilia, you wrote, “In 2017 I will start my coaching journey and see what happens!” And then you wrote, “I have never been so energized!” Have you been able to sustain that energy, Cecilia? We sure hope so!


    Mi Mi Mi Mi Mi

    My goal for 2017 was to restart, and then finish a draft of, my novel before year’s end.

    How am I doing on that goal? Well, terribly. I got three chapters in and then put it back under the rock it crawled out from… under. Back under the rock from under which it crawled. Out from… under.

    But here’s the good news: I’m about 20,000 words into a new project, nonfiction, something that is wayyyyy better already than my novel, and something I’m excited about and — dare I say? — passionate about.

    I’ve been writing nearly every morning, and I recently shared the first 5,000 words with my writing group.

    Inevitably there will come a backlash when suddenly I’m filled with self-doubt and/or will grow bored and/or disillusioned with the whole thing. But I think I’ve built enough momentum to fight through that.


    Update Your Goal(s)?

    In other words, just because I won’t achieve the writing goal I set in January doesn’t mean I’m failing as a writer in 2017. I’m just having a different kind of success than I’d envisioned.

    So here in July, I’m updating my writing goal:

    In what’s left of 2017 I will continue to work on this new project I’m into; and if I finish a draft by year’s end, cool, and if I don’t, also cool, so long as I keep putting in an honest effort.

    Maybe you want to update your own goal(s)?

    If so, finish this sentence in the comments below:

    “In what’s left of 2017 I will __________”

    (Bonus points if you include happy birthday wishes for my sister Sarah.)


    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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    Mel Daniels

    I’m in the same boat: meant to finish my nonfiction
    history book (England’s colonisation of India) but
    instead am working on a fiction novel set in same.

    May attend still to both. But for the moment I’m tickled
    to work on fiction, and I don’t mind that my “goal”
    is going off unachieved.


    I started the year realizing I needed to completely redo my novel-in-progress of many years. It simply did not work as a story. So being older and wiser, I relaunched the effort and what I’ve redone is much better (by my own evaluation and that of my writing group). My goal now is to have a complete draft by 12/10/2017 ready to discuss with WBN.


    Dec 10 is a calculated date–my best answer to “when will I finish this?” What it is now, or rather, what it is becoming, is a story that works. Not a reverse Mel (best of luck to him) but another step forward in learning how to tell a story.

    John Liebling

    My short answer is yes – I am on track to complete my 2017 goal. Analyzing MY writing process, that’s never a short answer. As it is with life – great writing is perpetually an unfinished product. We are all in various stages of OUR process. Writing is an extension of our own unique humanity. We can touch hearts, provide life lessons, entertain and inspire to a call for action. We write for a variety of reasons. My father passed away July 14, 2013. I’ve never been the same. I am in a much better place than just two years… Read more »

    John Liebling

    You know what Mel Blanc inscribed on his tombstone? You know the dude who voiced Bugs and Porky da Pig… That’s all folks! Book #2 will be a fiddty fiddty proposition…one side of the political spectrum will be enraged and the other side will say cool it’s about time. Unlike many, who just want to be liked – attacking my political belief system on some issues just fuels my desire to show how wrong some people are and gives me a big belly laugh. And because you’ve seen my youtube Toastmaster presentation – big belly laugh is indeed significant. Because… Read more »

    David Duhr

    I can say that I don’t know many writers who’ve had so much fun working on a novel. I suspect that your enthusiasm will carry you through Book 2, Book 3, and books 4 through…?

    And I hope it’s contagious!

    John Liebling

    I appreciate that David. Perhaps I am not as jaded, because I haven’t been writing that long. Many have been writing articles and novels for decades — or a decade. I started this Novel writing adventure just a few years ago. Everything is very fresh and new. Even though many can look at their successes many rejections can temper that. I haven’t been rejected yet. I am not a politician. I don’t have political power over millions. Or influence billions. I don’t control a union – though I am a Chapter Chair at my local school. I don’t exert great… Read more »

    Meryl J. B.

    My goal was to be published for the first time in something that is in print and not just online. I have two stories and a book review in waiting at various print magazines like Indiana and Iowa reviews, Gettysburg, Zzzyva and others. I’ll consider it a win if someone accepts one of those things, even if publication isn’t until 2018. If you know any editors at those places and want to lean on them for me, I won’t say no, wink wink.

    Happy birthday sister Sara!


    David Duhr

    Hi Meryl,

    I like this goal. Being published online is no small thing, but I remember feeling a thrill when I was first in print that I didn’t feel when first published online. (Pleiades, a book review. Did you try them?)

    And I agree, an acceptance in 2017, regardless of pub date, should make you feel like you achieved your goal. So, best of luck! And keep us posted.


    I’ve completed the first draft of the 2017 goal I posted last December/January. It’s about 10,000 words, and I’m debating whether/how to continue it as a novel or novella. I’ve come to the conclusion that I don’t know what genre I’m writing in and need professional help. (Literally, professional help. May contact WBN soon.) Your emails and blogs, David, have helped keep my focus on writing. I need to develop a swoop mentality and step up my production. Remaining goal for 2017? Finish the project I’ve started and begin work on a 2nd one, for which I have notes and… Read more »

    David Duhr

    Hi Teresa,

    Thanks for stopping by and leaving your thoughts. I’m so glad our posts and emails are helping to keep writing top of mind. But remember, nothing can make you write if you don’t want to write; so don’t forget to give yourself a pat on the back now and again.

    So you have 10,000 words of a self-contained story, and you’re wondering if you should stop there and shop it as a novella or try to expand it to novel length?

    Glynis Jolly

    David, this post gave me hope. You see, I am having the same problem that you seem to be conquering. I knew the draft I was working on was not projecting what I wanted from it. Yet, I am hooked on the story it tells, so I am trying to start it anew. The word, ‘struggle’ does not really explain the anguish I am facing right now.

    David Duhr

    Hi Glynis, It’s good to hear from you! I’m sorry to hear you’re struggling with this project, but so long as you’re hooked on the story, something is sure to come out of it. Maybe if this current new attempt doesn’t take off in the direction you want it to, you could consider working on something else for a while and let this story just kind of simmer in the background. Because your subconscious will work on it, and work through it, and look for solutions. We talked a few months ago about hiatuses, and how they can sometimes be… Read more »

    John Liebling

    We all need goals. Without them what’s the point in getting up in the morning? In fact having them makes all the difference if we are having difficulty, either by way of depression, hog or boar-dumb… In what is left of 2017 I will??? Get my current pre WBN draft as good as I can get it on my own. Set up a discussion with David for the full Manuscript Consultation – and trimming further – not related to writing – spend more time in the Gym for healthy trimming purposes. And for me, a goal more problematic than completing… Read more »

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