2023 Writing Goals
Since I’m making a commitment to conscious creation this year, it’s appropriate that I share my writing goals for 2023.
Some of the goals are specific and numbers based, some are task oriented and more open-ended.
Taken together, they might sound like a lot, but as a single-no-kids, they are achievable. Some of the goals support the others, so I get double points. Of course, for some writers, these might seem tepid. To each their own.
I set a goal of 130 research hours for the next year, or about 2.5 hours a week, or about 1 library night a week. The 130 hours is less important than working the list of topics I need to research for my current novel and my next few projects.
Topics include the construction of a major highway through Maryland, some Appalachian history, radio station operations in the early 1960s, rural routes in the American South in the early 1930s, and interstate travel in the American North and Midwest in the early 1950s.
I’m not writing travelogues, but my next projects feature characters on the road, so I might as well bunch up the road research to get it out of the way. Most of the information will not see the light of day in any of the projects, but knowing how long it might take a bus to travel between major cities, as well as what small towns and road hazards they might pass along the way, will help support story timelines and milestones.
I’m also counting some reading towards my research hours, with books like John Reppion’s Spirits of Place; The Unabridged Journals of Sylvia Plath; The Boys of Fairy Town by Jim Elledge; Young Man from the Provinces by Alan Helms; and a few others.
Writing hours and word count goals
I’ve set targets for 520 writing hours and 250,000 words by the end of the year. I’ve never kept track of writing hours, so I don’t have a baseline, but 10 hours per week seems reasonable. Some weeks will be higher and some will be lower. The word count is a bit higher than my average, but I’ve never had a problem hitting 500 words a day, so approximately 700 a day doesn’t seem insurmountable.
Both of those goals should be high enough to support my…
With two years’ work behind me, this could be the year I finish my novel in progress. I’ve already gone thorough two iterations, both of which got messy and petered out at the halfway point. I spent the past few months working but not working on it: reading craft books and articles, studying up on my weak points, digging deeper into the main characters, experimenting with motifs and symbols, and adding, discarding, and rearranging characters and scenes.
I’m mostly confident that my new outline will get me through the messy middle. At minimum, it should get me further to the ending than I’ve reached previously.
As a stretch goal, I’d like to have a detailed outline for my next project by the end of the year.
I’ve tried blogging many times over the years and have never stuck to it. I don’t know how people A) find the time; B) find topics; and C) convince themselves anyone cares what they think.
Time, I can find. I like writing.
For B, I’ve found a topic with the Conscious Writing series, in which I’ll apply Gay Hendricks’ concept of Conscious Living to my writing practice. That gives me a defined topic for at least one short blog post every day of the year. I like Hendricks’ approach to living authentically and being present in the moment, and I like yammering about writing, so this may be a good way to get into the habit of blogging regularly. Organizing my thoughts on two separate but related passions also should be a good thing.
I’ve decided not to care about C.
I’m halfway through an online writing seminar, which I plan to finish in January. Might blog about it, might not.
I’ve also set a goal of reading six craft books; not just skimming, but spending time with the advice and seeing how it applies to my work and maybe doing some of the writing exercises or challenges, if they aren’t too stupid. Books TBD. I have about 60 on my shelf, only a few of which I’ve read cover to cover.
Finally, I’ve set a goal of interacting with my local and online writing communities more frequently this year. I’m solitary by nature, but pre-pandemic, I participated in a local writing workshop and a writer’s hangout, where folks showed up to write but didn’t share work. The workshop has moved online but the hangout is defunct.
So, my goal for this year is to rejoin the online workshop, participate in a few targeted online forums (not Facebook or Twitter), and put out feelers for monthly in-person hangout sessions. If no one else wants to hangout in person, I’ll go by myself. I like coffee drinks and snacks.
What are your creative goals for 2023?