Looking Back at my 2018 Writing Goals

Alan Shearer Goal

Alan Shearer knew a thing or two about goals. (Image: Stu Forster/Getty Images)

2018 was one hell of a ride. It had its amazing moments and it had its terrible moments. It was an emotional rollercoaster in which I learnt a lot about myself and other people. And here I am, on the other side, a little stronger, a little smarter, and with any luck a little better—still a lot of room to improve but that’s the name of the game, friends.

Of course, the biggest life change in 2018 was becoming a father, which continues to be an incredible, humbling, and surprising journey every single day. The second biggest change was moving back from Japan—bittersweet but the right decision at the time.

But onto those writing goals I made at the start of 2018. Let’s see how I did …

1. To always have a first draft on the go. Splitting my writing time in two: ‘writing a new story’ and ‘editing/redrafting’ other WIPs.

Spirit of the goal: To keep productive and fresh and ensure I’m constantly creating new content rather than just revising older content.

The result: I’m delighted to report that I have completed this goal and will be keeping this up indefinitely. Not only did I always have a first draft on the go during 2018 but sometimes I had two or three. I’m not sure I’d recommend more than one first draft at a time but I dare say it helped with my productivity and creativity. At the time of writing, I have the first draft of a novel I’m concentrating on and a couple of other first draft longer pieces that are waiting as soon as I’m done. If you haven’t tried this, I recommend you take the plunge in 2019 and always have a first draft on the go. This is going to be how I do things going forward.

2. Read one story per day.

Spirit of the goal: To continue to read a large volume of stories, diverse voices, and to challenge my reading habits with new authors and stories.

The result: I stopped keeping count of the number of stories I read so it’s difficult to conclusively know if I achieved this one, but I ticked off the ‘spirit of the goal’ which was to continue to read a large volume of stories, diverse voices, and to challenge my reading habits with new authors and stories. I always have several books on the go including short story collections (which often means reading numerous stories in one day) and audiobooks and am constantly seeking out new authors. We released 65 episodes of the This Is Horror Podcast last year which certainly kept me busy reading, too, and that’s not counting the Story Unboxed and Patreon episodes.

3. Submit 24 stories and 4. To have 12 stories published.

Spirit of the goal: To see more of my work in print with a variety of publications I love and respect. And to expand my readership and get my work out into the world.

The result: I fell short here. I submitted eight stories to publications and had two stories published in 2018—‘Things We Say’ (Dark Moon Digest) and ‘Last Christmas’ (The Other Stories). In addition, my novella, The Girl in the Video will be published by Perpetual Motion Machine Publishing in 2019, I have a number of stories that I’ve submitted and am waiting to hear back about, and there’s even some interest from publishers on a few longer projects. It wasn’t quite the writing year I’d hoped for, but it was perhaps my most productive yet with a number of promising leads. Not bad given I became a father and was competing with 2017 in which I’d attempted the short story per week challenge.

Other cool writing and podcast-related things in 2018

  • I successfully completed NaNoWriMo proving that I can write 50,000 words in a month should the need or desire call for it.
  • This Is Horror Podcast released 65 episodes.
  • This Is Horror Podcast is now up to over 20,000 monthly downloads (a longstanding achievement).
  • This Is Horror Podcast Patreon gained almost 50 patrons.
  • I was interviewed on the wonderful Ladies of the Fright Podcast.

Join me again soon for my 2019 goals. But in the meantime, I’d love to know how your 2018 was. Hit me up in the comments or over on twitter @wilsonthewriter.

Failing Without Failing

Try Again Fail Better Samuel Beckett

We’re almost halfway through the year and as such we’re nearing the halfway point of The 2017 One Story Per Week Writing Challenge. It’s a tough challenge and many of us have slipped behind. There have been whisperings from writers about failing the challenge, about being unable to sustain the pace required to write 52 stories in one year.

But is it really failing if you fall short and write 40, 30 or even 20 stories in the year? Twenty stories in one year doesn’t sound like failure to me, it sounds like a damn fine achievement.

Which brings me to goal setting. See, every year I set myself 3–5 SMART goals, most of which are ambitious but I always believe I have a chance of achieving them (otherwise what’s the point of setting them?). I create goals that will push and challenge me. So much so that if I fail I don’t actually fail. I achieve more than I would have had I not set a goal in the first place. Had I just plodded along.

Comfortably.

Safely.

So, if you’re beating yourself up about not being where you wanted to be in June 2017, look at where you are now compared to the start of the year. And if you’re not very far along at all? No matter. You can’t change your past, but you can act now, and you can shape your future.

Keep on going.

Keep on failing.

Keep on achieving.