Looking Forward To My 2020 Goals

Hakone Japan by Michael David Wilson

A week or so ago I looked back at my goals for 2019 and now it’s time to look forward to my 2020 goals. And whilst I admit that announcing my 2020 goals in February might seem a little late, I set these at the start of the year and have been dutifully working away at them for the last month or so.

Next month I’m returning to Japan and I’m hoping to take my Japanese language to the next level which is why so many of these goals are focussed on language learning. I’ve also set a number of writing and podcast goals. With that said, let’s jump into them.

Japanese Language Goals

Clear Anki listening deck at least once per week

Most of the people I know who can speak near-fluent Japanese credit Anki for a lot of their success. It seems of all the language learning methods and programmes, Anki is amongst the most successful. When applying the 80-20 rule (how can I exert 20% of the effort for 80% of the results), Anki and other spaced repetition flashcard programmes come up again-and-again. With that in mind, it’s a key part of my language learning routine. But my goodness are there a lot of flashcards to memorise and review. As long as I can clear the deck once every week then I’ll consider this goal a success. If I clear it multiple times then bonus!

Finish WaniKani

WaniKani is another spaced repetition flashcard programme. But whilst I’m using Anki predominantly to memorise Japanese phrases and sharpen my listening skills, WaniKani is purely for learning the kanji. WaniKani was one of the first Japanese language learning programmes I took seriously. So much so that the last time I was in Japan I knew a disproportionate amount of kanji for my speaking level (which was awfully low). In recent years I’ve let my WaniKani practice slip which is why I’m setting myself the ambitious (read ‘stupid’) goal of finishing the entire thing by the time 2020 ends.

Get N4 JLPT certificate

I’ve never taken a formal Japanese Language Proficiency Test but I think it’s time to remedy that. There are five levels, 5 being the easiest, 1 the most difficult. I’m easing my way in and signing up for the N4. No prizes for guessing what one of my goals for 2021 will be …

Complete DuoLingo

Duolingo is a relatively easy entry-level language learning app. And whilst it’s not going to level-up my language as quickly as WaniKani or Anki, it’s certainly a lot more interesting and enjoyable. So it’s time to complete Duolingo, at least with regards to Japanese.

Writing Goals

2 Novels/Novellas accepted for publication

Last year was mostly about short fiction (you can find links to many of my stories here) but this year I’d like to see more of my longer fiction readying itself for the big wide world. In a couple of months, The Girl in the Video, will launch, and the year after House of Bad Memories, via Grindhouse Press, but I’d like to have at least another two pieces of long-form fiction lined up for publication.

15 stories published

But I won’t be abandoning the short story. Last year I reached my ’10 stories published’ goal with a grand total of 12. This year I’m aiming for three more. This may be the most ambitious of my writing goals, everything else considered. That said, I’m off to a good start with the aforementioned The Girl in the Video and my short story ‘Don’t Punch Kyle’ which will be appearing in Dim Shores Presents Vol. 2.

Write a new novel/novella

Whilst I have a number of stories in the bank and ready to go, I’m always producing and want to keep things fresh. By the end of the year, they’ll be at least another novel or novella in the story vault, ready to ship to publishers and readers.

Podcast Goals

300 Patrons

Last year This Is Horror Podcast Patreon reached 200 patrons, this year I’m aiming for 100 more. The year has got off to a rocky start and we’re actually a few patrons down but Bob Pastorella and I are working towards this the only way we know how: putting out high-quality episodes as often as possible. As of today we’ve already put out ten This Is Horror Podcast episodes and we’re only in the first week of February.

So, how about you? What are your goals for 2020? Sound off in the comments or let me know over on Twitter @wilsonthewriter.

Looking Back At My 2019 Goals

Awaken The Monster Within by Michael David Wilson

As regular listeners to the This Is Horror Podcast will know I’m very goal- and challenge-focussed. I always like to ensure my goals have specific metrics, so rather than say ‘write more stories’ or ‘lift heavier weights’ I quantify things. I’m also more concerned with the spirit of the goal than the actual goal, asking ‘what is the overall purpose?’ I came head-to-head with this in 2017 during the ‘one story per week’ challenge when I found myself at a crossroads, asking ‘do I write this awesome novella that’s made itself known to me or do I put it on the backburner for the sake of writing 52 short stories?’ When The Girl in the Video (available to pre-order here) comes out this April, I hope you’ll agree I made the right decision. With that said—or at least written if you aren’t reading aloud—it’s time to look back at those goals from 2019.

To have at least ten stories published

This was my number one goal and I’m delighted to say I achieved it and in record time. My tenth story, ‘The Motorhome‘ was published in September 2019 and I ended the year on a high with twelve stories published and two stories accepted for future publication, The Girl in the Video in 2020 and House of Bad Memories in 2021. I’m delighted to say I’ve now had another story accepted for 2020 with a publisher who’s never published me before, so I’m looking forward to unveiling that in due course.

Fun bonus goal

I set myself the unofficial goal of submitting to every single Hawk & Cleaver The Other Stories Podcast call. I did this because I love the hell out of that podcast and wanted to stretch myself in terms of what I’m writing. In the end, I submitted to all but one of their themes (I didn’t submit to Haunted Art in November as I was busy preparing for my return to Japan and had already completed my ’10 stories published’ goal). Rather wonderfully, of all the stories I submitted, all but one were picked up (and I’m very proud of the story that didn’t make the cut, so expect to see that someplace else in the future).

To reach 300 This Is Horror Podcast patrons

I didn’t reach this goal but we did manage to increase This Is Horror Podcast Patreon from around 150 patrons at the start of the year to just over 200 by the end of the year. Hardly a failure all things considered. Here’s hoping we can reach 300 patrons by the end of this year.

To develop a daily meditation practice

This is something I’ve been eager to cultivate for a number of years now. I’m an on-off meditator and have yet to find a meditation practice that resonates with me so much that I do it every single day. I’ve been practising using Sam Harris’s Waking Up app recently and I certainly recommend checking it out. For now, the optimal meditation practice eludes me but when I find it, I’ll be sure to let you good people know.

To surpass 30,000 This Is Horror Podcast monthly downloads

Another goal not quite met. This Is Horror Podcast attracts 10,000–20,000 monthly downloads. We’ve upped the frequency of episodes to twice per week for the entirety of January and February so I’ll be interested to see if that moves the needle. What we did do was have one of our best years in terms of This Is Horror Podcast conversations, including our epic four-hour podcast with eight guests. If you’ve yet to listen to the This Is Horror Podcast please check out episode 300 right away. We chat with Adam Nevill, Joe R. Lansdale, Josh Malerman, Alma Katsu, Damien Angelica Walters, Stephen Graham Jones, Jon Padgett, and Kathe Koja.

Listen to episode 300 of This Is Horror Podcast 

To have a novel accepted for publication

So, I didn’t have a novel accepted for publication but then again I didn’t shop a novel for publication. What I did do was submit House of Bad Memories to those fine folks at Grindhouse Press. At 35,000 words long it’s almost a novel, so if edits come back and I add another 5,000 words I may have to retroactively declare this one a win. Either way, I’m very excited about this one and am positively ecstatic that not only do I have a book out this year (The Girl in the Video, I mentioned that, right?) but I’ll have one in 2021, too. Hooray!

So there it is, folks. Technically I achieved one of the five goals I set myself in 2019. 20% isn’t the greatest hit rate but I don’t feel like a failure. With the goal I did achieve, I exceeded the original target and I’ve made good gains in all other areas. But to look at the goals in isolation is to give a disingenuous overview of the year. I overcame a health scare at the start of the year, continued to make solid ground with my writing, spoke with some dream guests on This Is Horror Podcast, looked after a kid full-time (!), and in a couple of months, I’m returning to Japan.

2019 was better than it was bad. And the entire decade was awfully kind to me, too. It’s going to take some beating. But you know what? I’m excited about 2020 and I’m excited about this next decade. I can’t wait to see what I achieve.

Catch you in the next post where I’ll be announcing my goals for 2020.

Until then, have a great great day!