• Your 2020 Writing Goals

    Posted Posted by David Duhr in ABCs of Writing     Comments 36 comments

    Discussion questions: What are your writing goals for 2020? Your reading goals? How will you achieve them? Do you plan to make any changes in your writing approach this coming year? Let’s talk about it in the comments.


    You know the drill by now. Whether or not you’re inclined to make New Years’ resolutions, you’re still aware of the turning of the calendar and what it means: That 2019 is over and you have an excuse for a fresh start, should you feel in need of one.

    Annually in this space we offer the opportunity for a public expression of your literary goals for the upcoming year. For most of us, it’s painfully simple to let ourselves off the hook when it comes to goals. It can be difficult — even much more difficult — to do so when we make those goals public.

    Accountability can be an excellent motivating factor.

    So in the spirit of that, tell me: What are your 2020 literary goals? Your writing goals, most importantly, but if you have any reading-related goals, I’d be interested in those too.

    Also I want to know: How do you plan to achieve these goals? Will you change your approach in any way in 2020, or are you happy with how it is now?


    I suppose I ought to get the ball rolling.

    In 2020, I want to get better as a writer. Output aside, I want, at the end of the year, to look back at my 2020 work and be able to say I’ve improved.

    I want to find a way to be more dedicated to writing without holding myself to unrealistic standards.

    These so far are vague. That’s OK.

    Here’s a concrete goal: I want to publish fiction in 2020. I’ve never published fiction — it’s been more than a decade since I’ve even tried, and I certainly wasn’t qualified back then. So in 2020, I aim to get a short story published.

    And I want to help keep my writing group together. We’re stumbling into 2020, and in danger of splintering apart. The accountability — owing pages, having a deadline — helps me immensely, as does being in the presence of writers for several hours once a month.

    For reading, I want to knock off a few more titles from the Modern Library’s top 100 list. My Yak Baby pals and I went down the checklist, and I was disappointed with my tally. Not that it’s about competition — it’s more like recognizing a FOMO on the books we as a group consider to be the best, as flawed as that system may be.

    Though as usual, my main reading goal is to find new books that inspire and move me.


    That’s it for me. Now… hold me to it!

    And I’ll check in throughout the year to see about your progress.


    Happy New Year, WriteByNighters! And thank you for sharing your time with me in this space. This year and every year.


    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 2020(!) writing project 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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    Charles O'Donnell

    My list of writing goals is always long and ambitious. 2019 was like that. I did well on my 2019 goals, but I didn’t accomplish all of them. I published a number of short stories and wrote a total of 70,000 words on two works in progress, as well as starting an online critique group for my community of writers. 2020 will be even more ambitious: – Complete and release book 3 of the “Shredded” series – Complete my YA fantasy “Recollection” and query it to agents – Release a collection of previously published short stories – Write at least… Read more »

    Charles O'Donnell

    David, these are roughly in order of decreasing importance.



    wow! inspiring. and great!


    I am going to pay myself $10 every time I sit down and write. (at LEAST for 2 hours to get the big bucks.) Then I am going to buy a new computer in 2020. That’s a lot of writing! Happy New Year.!!! The only time I have EVER kept a resolution was when I was so tired of not keeping them that I resolved in 1990 to eat a candy bar everyday! And I did it, with a few dashes to SA at 10 at night) Perhaps I will manage this as well.


    There is much I want to accomplish, but my main writing goals for the next year 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. 2. I will develop my Lost Horizon project to a point where I can decide whether to pursue it or drop it. 3. I will continue to read-and-review, following my “review queue” shelf in Goodreads. And I intend that a mid-year evaluation will result in new goals spawned from these (esp 1 &… Read more »


    Recording while driving is a good. My wife is with me on this one though. We did have a good talk about the book. My morning writing is mostly fortuitous. I’ve learned to do it whenever I’m mentally alert.


    I’ll write anytime I have the opportunity. For inspirations I’ll at least make notes.


    Well, I have a book coming out on Jan 15. I’m editing another for release around May. Then there is one I will have ready by Nov. I’ve decided to do the heavy work this year and learn how to edit properly which means I’m concentrating on classes and books with that portion in mind. I can write that novel in 30 days (80K for NaNo) but editing was something that gave me nightmares. I now know where to start, how to start, how to drill it down. Now comes a six month to year long practice of self-editing.

    Hans De Leo

    Self-editing isn’t easy, especially when you have a well-written scene you worked hard to get just right, but then realize it doesn’t add anything to the story. That’s why I always get feedback from other authors. As far as copy-editing, I pay for a grammar-checker program, which isn’t perfect. Still, I’m learning a lot about the finer points of not perfect, but acceptable grammar.
    Someday I hope to be able to afford a copy editor.


    Work is settling down to around 48 hours a week. I’m in Arizona and building a house on 101 acres about 15 miles from where I currently live this summer. I’m so looking forward to my own writing space where I can actually work. I’ve gotten into a routine which is great.


    I have it all arranged mentally. It won’t get built until winter is over since you can’t build much in the snow. Like everything where you have to go through agencies, there are glitches…some good, some bad, but things are moving ahead slowly but surely.

    Elissa Malcohn

    My writing goals are mainly work-based, as both a vendor and a volunteer, but I’m conducting an experiment that will involve daily creative output. Maintaining my journal is also a given. Reading goals are simply to read whatever is out there that catches my eye. My methods remain pretty much the same except for the experiment, which I’m doing just for the sake of seeing what happens. Wishing everyone a good, productive new year!

    Elissa Malcohn

    Thanks! I’ll give a status report somewhere down the line.

    Hans De Leo

    In 2019 I had 3 goals, and achieved 2. Not bad.
    For 2020 I have 4 goals in mind. I want to publish my third sci-fi novel, read 12 books, form an LLC, and stand-up my author website.
    I know not much is going to happen in Q1 of 2020 in that regard unless the OT the boss is talking about never materializes. At least I have some time off before that hits to get a head start on re-writing the novel.
    We’ll see how thing go.

    Hans De Leo

    The novel is in a draft form. The review group liked the story, but felt I spent way too much time on a space chase, and not nearly enough on the alien planet where the situation resolves. It means about half gets re-written.
    That’s okay because the end product will be of higher quality in the end.

    stephen Glick

    Good afternoon strangers. My 2019 goal has happened my first fiction Novel will be in print February 1st. My goals for 2020 as I discussed with Resa my wring coach will be to complete two fiction Novels .THE BOOK OF Levi and SOMETHINGS WRONG WITH JOEY. Gonna do it! tick Tock folks have a great year all.Talk to you all next month.

    stephen Glick

    David I have a lot of time invested in the book of Levi .That book is a struggle .To answer your question I have been writing both but I am re- focusing back on the Levi book .I have currently 50,000 words I really want to plump it to 70,000 words before the first re-write hope to be 90,0000 plus when done. THANKS Dave

    Jan Morgan-Swegle

    I have been retired for one year, with very little to show for it in terms of writing. In 2020, I want to attend more writing seminars and workshops. I want to learn and be inspired by others. I want to use all of the resources I have at my finger tips and I want to have at the very, very least, one piece published. Oh, I also want world peace! (Love the movie!)


    This coming year, I hope to finish my book. I began it years ago. The title of it is called The Crime I Did Not Commit. I am taking time to really think how I can help others through the horrible encounter I had with someone who claimed he was a modeling agent. It basically ruined my life. Then I was given the opportunity to write about the experience.I hope to not only finish writing the book, but hope by me sharing this experience with others, I can help even one person to heal. I think my ultimate dream is… Read more »


    I am almost done with the draft and my editor has edited much of it. Yes, I have been writing steadily over the past just about four years or so. I also had to go to see an Eating Disorder specialist, a doctor to help me with the PTSD and all the flashbacks, I also had to drop out of college in 2018 because I became anorexic/bulimic and just needed a lot of help to work through the trauma I endured. But the doctor told me that might happen. The writing was helpful but then my emotional state was terribly… Read more »

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