Writing & Reading Goals 2020: 50-Yard Line

Discussion questions: Are you on pace to hit the 2020 writing and reading goals you laid out at the beginning of the year? In what ways has the COVID-19 situation affected, or even altered, your goals and your approach? What’s your plan for the rest of the year, reading- and writing-wise? What are the biggest roadblocks in your way? Let’s discuss in the comments.


So here’s a weird thing. When I last did a 2020 reading & writing goals check-in, I said we were one-fourth of the way through the year. I published that post on March 7, barely over two months into the new year. Call it a brain fart, thinking that 3-7-20 means three months have passed.

Since then, time has moved in bizarre ways. Remember March 7? The four months that have passed feel like four years, and by years I mean decades.

In what ways has COVID-19 affected, even altered, the writing and reading goals you set at the beginning of the year?

And if it hasn’t, are you on pace?

Are you happy with the amount and quality of your writing so far this year? With your reading?

What are the biggest roadblocks you’ve faced?

Let’s talk about it in the comments. Tell me about your goals, tell me how you’re doing with them, and tell me about your plan for the next six months.


Just to keep me honest, here’s what I wrote out as my own goals, and my progress:

“In 2020, I want to get better as a writer.”

I feel like I’ve improved. That doesn’t mean I’m not hard on myself.


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

I guess I’m doing that, despite a long layoff during the worst of the lockdown situation here in NYC.

The biggest step I’ve taken is hiring one of our wonderful coaches, Tom Andes. We’ve met twice, and I’m writing more than I have all year.


“I want to publish fiction in 2020.”

I haven’t submitted anything yet, but I feel like I’m closing in on it. That obviously doesn’t mean I’ll publish something in 2020. Probably I should’ve said something more like “I want to submit fiction in 2020.”


“I want to help keep my writing group together.”

I haven’t done this. COVID-19 derailed us, for obvious reasons. But I did nothing to keep us together. Our moderator did — he corralled the group into a Zoom meeting two weeks ago. Or… most of the group. I did not join.


“For reading, I want to knock off a few more titles from the Modern Library’s top 100 list.”

I’ve done this, sort of. I read William Kennedy’s Ironweed, which is excellent. I also finished rereads of Under the Volcano and Slaughterhouse-Five. But do rereads count? It probably doesn’t keep with the spirit of the goal.

I started Animal Farm a few weeks ago, and although I got derailed, I liked it, and will probably return. I also have Willa Cather’s Death Comes for the Archbishop near to hand, so that may be next.


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

I haven’t done well with this one. The closest I’ve come is Julian Barnes’s The Sense of an Ending, which has some beautiful moments.


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.

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