Writing Goals for 2020

Happy New Year! What will you accomplish in 2020?

I believe that writers, maybe more than any other artists and certainly more than other professionals, need to set goals for themselves. Creativity doesn’t have to be undisciplined, and I can’t imagine calling yourself a writer if you aren’t producing work. That doesn’t necessarily mean forcing yourself to write 1,000 words a day, but aiming toward finishing a project by a certain date might make it more likely that you will actually finish that project. And if you do, then you can move on to the next one. Or so my thinking goes, at any rate.

My goals aren’t resolutions. I’ve got those, too, but that’s a whole other subject, one that I’ll keep to myself. Goals are what I want to get done in 2020, and they’re meant to be far more specific than resolutions. But before I can articulate what my 2020 goals are, I need to look back at the goals I set for myself a year ago to see how I did. You can see my post about 2019 Writing Goals here.

My first goal for 2019 was to finish the novel that was my work-in-progress. Didn’t happen. Didn’t come close. I struggled with it all year long. I think I now see a way forward, but the picture only improved recently. Since I didn’t finish the novel, I also didn’t query agents for the novel. Two strikes! But then: I did launch my debut novel and I did prepare my new story collection for publication. The novel came out in May and the story collection is currently out gathering blurbs for its expected publication in May of 2020. Not only did I submit a story for publication, the story in question found a very good home and was published in a print journal in the fall of 2019. I actually wrote and published several book reviews during the year, and I also updated the literary magazine rankings, which people seem to find useful. So I missed on the first goal in a big way, but I managed to do almost everything else, so I feel pretty good about the year. (I was also going to write at least one essay, and I didn’t finish it, but I did start it, at least.)

Which brings us to 2020 and my writing goals for this year:

  1.  Launch my new story collection. Publication of House of the Ancients and Other Stories (Press 53) is scheduled for May 12, 2020 and we’re currently finalizing the galleys and gathering blurbs for the cover. Between now and then I have a lot to do to arrange some appearances and signings, but the work of publication is now mostly out of my hands.
  2. Finalize edits for my new novel. My novel Oliver’s Travels will be published by Regal House Publishing in the spring of 2021. Regal House takes a different approach than my previous publishers, and has a rigid schedule of how and when edits will be done so that galleys can go out to reviewers well in advance of publication. So this work will begin very soon and should be done by the fall.
  3. Write and submit a personal essay. I’ve been giving nonfiction a lot of thought lately, and I think I want to try my and at the personal essay form. I started work on an essay in 2019 and I’d very much like to finish that and submit it to magazines in 2020.
  4. Write and publish one or more book reviews. I was happy with the reviews I wrote in 2019 and I already have one commissioned review for 2020 with at least one more in process. I’m also sitting on a couple of advance copies of 2020 books that might turn into reviews. We’ll see.
  5. Update the Literary Magazine Rankings. The 2021 Pushcart Prize anthology will be out in the fall and I will update the rankings as soon as I get my hands on the volume. People do seem to appreciate the work I do on this. If you’re not familiar with the rankings, check out the 2020 Literary Magazine Rankings.
  6. Finish my Work-in-Progress. This is the same goal I had in 2019 that I failed to meet, but I do think it’s possible to do this year. Or, at least, I can finish a complete draft. I won’t necessarily say that I’m going to query agents with it, however, because it will need to be polished to do that, so that’s something that might have to wait for 2021.
  7. Apply to Writing Residencies, etc. I didn’t include this goal last year, but it’s definitely part of the business, so I need to take a look at conferences, residencies, and book festivals to see which ones make sense for me.

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