• Writing & Reading Goals 2020: Quarter-Pole Check-In

    Posted Posted by David Duhr in ABCs of Writing     Comments 35 comments

    Discussion questions: One-quarter of the way through 2020, are you one-quarter of the way toward achieving your 2020 writing and reading goals? If you left yours in the comments of this New Year’s post, take a minute to revisit and assess. If you didn’t, feel free to talk more generally. Are you happy with your writing so far this year, quantity and/or quality? Have you changed your approach in any way? Should you? Let’s talk about it in the comments.


    I’m not sure how it’s possible that more than three months has passed since we discussed our writing and reading goals for 2020. A quarter of the way through the year, I look down my list of goals, and…

    Well, I’m not exactly killing it. But I’m not doing terribly, either.

    Here are the goals I set out, and how I’m doing so far:

    “In 2020, I want to get better as a writer,” I wrote. I want to find a way to be more dedicated to writing.”

    Whether I’ve improved or not, I’m not ready to say. As for dedication, I started the year writing fiction almost daily, for the first time in a couple of years. A really strong groove. Now it’s been more than three weeks since I’ve touched it. I’m confident it’s just a lull, rather than an indication of flagging dedication.


    “I want to publish fiction in 2020,” I wrote. I’ve got a story that’s thisclose to being ready to go. Who knows if I’ll publish it in 2020, but if I start sending it around, I’ll consider this a win. Publishing, in a lot of ways, is out of our hands. But submitting our work isn’t.


    “And I want to help keep my writing group together.” I’ll get back to you on this one…


    “For reading, I want to knock off a few more titles from the Modern Library’s top 100 list.” I read William Kennedy’s Ironweed in February, and it’s excellent. I’m now more than halfway through a reread of Under the Volcano, and it’s even better the second time. Next up might be Death Comes for the Archbishop.


    That’s it for me. Now it’s your turn? As a writer and a reader, how is 2020 going for you so far?


    WriteByNight co-founder David Duhr is fiction editor at the Texas Observer and co-host of the Yak Babies podcast. He writes 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 2020 writing project you’d like a little help with, take a look at our book coachingprivate instruction and writer’s block counseling services. If you have a manuscript that’s ready for some editorial care, check out our various critiquing, editorial, and proofing servicesJoin our mailing list and get a FREE writer’s diagnostic, “Common problems and SOLUTIONS for the struggling writer.”

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    Hi Dave. Overall, I think I’m writing better. I did a major revision sweep of my novel and I think I greatly improved scenes that I haven’t touched in a year. Re: my 3 main goals from the NY post, I am making progress and how I want to proceed is shaping up. Statuses are: 1. I will finish drafting my Post Apocalypse novel to a point where it can be read and critiqued as a work, and compile a final plan for finishing it. status: I am 1 scene away from accomplishing this. I did set a goal date… Read more »


    A combo of things: sheer desire/need to finish what I started (novel, reading, reviews); a critical mass of “learning the craft” reached; retirement (after years of day-job burnout); feedback from writers group; desire to produce something helpful/inspiring to people (because storytelling and writing has inspired my life).

    It’s a cathartic mix such as I’m sure prompts people (especially creative types) to do positive things. Of course, my writing output is not even–I lost nearly three months due to a major house renovation. But when I work, I’ve learned how to work faster and better than I have in the past.


    Aye. A great distance can be traveled in a short time.


    My book “Mariah: Blood of the New Moon” launched on Jan 15th as planned. Not that there weren’t a few glitches. I’m good in that it went international and I sold around 150 books within a week. I’m still working on that marketing thing so I’m not complaining. What I did worked. I did make it through the editing class and learned a method that I need to perfect for going from the big picture down to the words. I’m working on the book I want out in Nov. I’m working on my marketing plan for it (I don’t have… Read more »


    That’s the plan. I’m working on it now. I’m into the second round of edits on the one book and on the last edits on the other one. I have one of the trilogy close to being being ready to publish, and the second one needs a couple of more edits and the last one is still is first draft.

    Yeah, I like the library/sanctuary idea. my dream is a library and an office. I’ll have both…I hope..lol.


    Let me know how that works out. I have a room where I am that would make a wonderful office, but there is no place to put the fur-ball named Boo who inhabits it. It’s his kingdom and he lets you know that with very loud meows when you disturb him in his habitat. I gave up after one day of trying to work at the small desk in the room. He laid down on my computer and refused to move, coming back each time I put him on the floor. He has his room and I have a woman… Read more »

    John Liebling

    Making good headway. Not sure if it is a milestone or millstone? May 24 I’ll be 62. My time frame is sometime between my birthday and the end of Sept of 2020 I’ll contact Justine and see if I can work with Nick Courtright and his Atmosphere Press. My Novel has improved a lot over the last couple of years.


    Elissa Malcohn

    This will be a long post. My writing goals for this year included “conducting an experiment that will involve daily creative output….My methods remain pretty much the same except for the experiment, which I’m doing just for the sake of seeing what happens.” So far I am having a blast with what I have titled 366. The impetus for 366 is a comment from David (thanks, David!), who wrote, “I’ve always had this really stupid fantasy of finding a book that’s exactly 365 pages and then reading only one page per day for the entire year, just to see how… Read more »

    Elissa Malcohn

    I also look forward to seeing where this will send me down the line and what I’ll end up reporting in. And I’ll be happy to send you the results, whatever quality (or lack thereof) they may be. Are you familiar with Claude Mauriac’s 1963 experimental novel Dinner in Town (sometimes translated as The Dinner Party)? A friend had sent it to me decades ago, and doing this experiment reminded me of it. The book begins with a graphic showing the seating arrangement for eight characters. The rest consists of either dialogue (in quotes) or thoughts (sandwiched between ellipses) and… Read more »

    Elissa Malcohn

    More like the other way around. If you need more cues from reading the dialogue and thoughts, the seating plan is an additional aid. It’s helpful especially in the early part of the book, when there’s less cumulative info about the characters.

    david lemke

    My reading goal is always 50 since I joined Goodreads. I’m at 3 books read this year, so far behind but I read multiple books at a time, so not as far behind as it looks. Because I’m working on four novels right now, I don’t plan on finishing any this year, though I may get a first draft done of at least one. “2084” has 45000 words, “The Cat Complains” has 25000, “Cult of Devay” has 50000. “Our Alien Hero” Quill Norman, has 7000, and what might be a novella “Vermin” has 5000 I’ve been having Photoshop problems with… Read more »

    david lemke

    I finished one and most of another writing course from Great Courses plus I’m going through one on Screenwriting which may give me a better grip on plot and pace.

    david lemke

    “Writing Great Fiction” and “How To Write Best Selling Fiction” I waited until there was a 90% off sale to buy them on DVD. Also I found them at my library, so you don’t have to spend the money.

    david lemke

    And you’d be wrong! While the writing great fiction focus only on writing, the other goes off into getting published in the next chapter, and marketing.

    david lemke

    20 chapters on writing, good ones at that… 4 chapters on other stuff, including self publishing.


    I submitted my YA short story, A Surprise for Bess, to a contest last month. I hope to publish my YA novel, Like an Owl Among the Ruins this summer.

    Silke Chambers

    After much research and conversations with self publishing companies, including Atmosphere Press, Lulu, Xulon, etc, I decided to go with Luminare Press, out of Oregon. I am still in the final editing stage, though, so printing isn’t imminent, yet. Thanks for asking, David.

    Patricia T. Collamer

    Thanks for this site! Top goal for me in 2020 is to write. I began last Nov. 1-2 hours every early morning and have not stopped. I take 2 mornings off to read. I am determined to continue until my NF project is finished. My plan is to pursue a more traditional publishing path this time and learn a lot in that process. I believe what I am writing can truly help someone out there.

    Patricia T. Collamer

    I went with a small publishing house in South Central PA- Year of the Book Press for a memoir (2015) and a children’s picture book (2016).

    Jennifer Pommer

    I hadn’t made any 2020 writing goals earlier this year, but I did have some general ones. Although I haven’t done as much writing as I have wanted, I can say I am being more consistent in my writing so I am writing more in my journal and have started to write down more of the story lines I think of. I like the idea from the 2020 New Year’s posting to pay oneself for writing. I might try that.

    Would love your thoughts, please comment.x