Reader Friday: Goals

Goals are important. Goals keep us on track and moving forward.

What are your writing goals for this year? Are you on track?

Do you set reading goals? If so, what are they?

For readers and writers, what do you do to stay on track?

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About Sue Coletta

Sue Coletta is an award-winning crime writer and an active member of Mystery Writers of America, Sisters in Crime, and International Thriller Writers. Feedspot and named her Murder Blog as “Best 100 Crime Blogs on the Net.” She also blogs at the Kill Zone, Story Empire, and Writers Helping Writers. Sue lives with her husband in the Lakes Region of New Hampshire. Her backlist includes psychological thrillers, the Mayhem Series (books 1-3) and Grafton County Series, and true crime/narrative nonfiction. Now, she exclusively writes eco-thrillers, Mayhem Series (books 4-8 and continuing). Sue's appeared on the Emmy award-winning true crime series, Storm of Suspicion, and three episodes of A Time to Kill on Investigation Discovery. Learn more about Sue and her books at

37 thoughts on “Reader Friday: Goals

  1. I write Monday-Friday and track what I’m working on, how many pages I get done. I also have an audiobook that I listen to during my commute.

    Saturday and Sunday I “fill the well” – read books, read screenplays, watch movies.

    I keep lists of books and screenplays read every month and star my favorites so I know which ones to study.

    Happy Friday! Wahoo!

  2. Goals. That’s something I’ve never been able to do. I try, I do. But the closest one I can think of is planning menus for entertaining. Even then, the ending meal seldom matches. We’ve been known to pack up the car and the kids, go to the highway and flip a coin to turn right or left. We might decide to go visit someone across the country and wander, no timeline, making side trips to places we’ve never heard of. I have neither fitness nor nutrition goals, nor any others, including, unfortunately, writing goals.

    I’d not thought of it before, but this proclivity is probably why, no matter how many books I read on plotting, I can not do it. The ending is there, usually written before I start the beginning, but word counts happen when they get written. I may write for ten hours one day and then not get back to it for a week. I wrote an entire book in ten days once, because I couldn’t wait to see what happened. I have no idea how to change this about myself. I just can’t fit into a schedule.

    Thanks for the questions. I have a lot to think about now. Maybe therapy? 😀

    • Becky, I can somewhat relate, in the sense that I can say I’ve tried it both ways–i.e. writing a book totally SOTP and writing a book that I plotted, but I still haven’t learned to stick with any one method. Still waiting to see if I’ll be a plotter or a pantser when I grow up. LOL!

      • Brenda, which method was the most fun? Which the most productive? Did you make a detailed outline and stick to it? Were you filled with satisfaction at the end? Did it go more effortlessly than pantsing? When I try to plot, I freeze up and make no progress at all. I already know the story in my head, I just need to make myself sit down and write it.

        • Becky, re: more fun—I give the edge to the one I plotted as more fun. My personality generally is “plan everything”. It’s been long enough that I don’t recall how long the plotted vs. the pansted manuscripts took to write. The one I outlined, I followed the outline pretty closely. I felt a sense of satisfaction with both manuscripts.

          I guess the rub for me is the one I plotted I thought wouldn’t have as many revision issues as the pantsed ms, but that was not the case. But to be fair, I am very hard on myself and my work so that plays into it as well.

          I think difficulty in plotting varies by story idea. I don’t recall it being extensively difficult plotting that manscript (historical fiction). Right now, I’m working on my first cozy mystery, and you’d think plotting a cozy mystery would be super easy to plot, but I’m not finding that to be the case at all and when I try to plot it I DO freeze up just as you mentioned. I don’t know what the root cause is. So for that one, I’m pantsing by default until things start to click more in my brain.

    • I’m a planner for sure. BUT I stopped keeping track of word counts. Did it for a while and it turned into an obsession. I was more concerned with hitting my word count than telling the story, and that’s not helpful. Once I stopped and went back to my usual routine (I don’t worry about it while writing, only counting scenes at the end of the day), the words flowed much easier. So, sometimes goals can get in the way. Deadlines, on the other hand, force me to focus. Love deadlines.

  3. Since 1994, my primary writing goal has been the quota–a certain number of words per week, logged on a spreadsheet.

    Re: reading, I usually have one fiction and one nonfiction book going, with a robust TBR list at the ready. And how cool is it to be living in a day when we can use OverDrive to borrow ebooks from the library? The other day I watched an old Alfred Hitchcock episode based on an early novel by Richard Matheson. The library had it. Boom! A minute later I was reading it on my phone.

    • Awesome, Jim! We’re lucky to have the library at our fingertips.

      I tried word counts, but it turned into an obsession, which wasn’t helpful for me. It’s funny how we sink into a routine that works, and we’re all so different.

      • It helps to use the Asimov method. I have two or more projects going at a time, at least one nonfiction. That enables me to shift when I get tired on one project. I can always bang out some words on something else. Asimov had three or four typewriters spread around his apartment with projects in them.

        You can also lower your quota so it’s easy, and then you’ll find yourself blowing past it without having to be obsessive. Win-win! (And be sure to take off one day per week to recharge!)

        Not that I’m trying to re-convert you, Sue!

  4. Two books a year, about 1000 words/day when I’m working on a book. I allow for a brief hiatus between books during the editing, formatting, distribution time.

    • Excellent, Terry. I *try* for a brief hiatus between books, but if I don’t at least start the next one that hiatus can go south. Sigh.

  5. I’m a writing goal machine–NOT. My writing goes in fits and spurts. When I’m on fire, I can whip out a 1st draft manuscript in 4 months. When I’m not? Well….

    Currently working on a project with someone & both our schedules are crazy. So
    the goal is: write something every week, even if it’s only a paragraph. BUT, the good news is in 3 months, despite the craziness, we’ve written an average of 6k words/month. Doesn’t sound like much, but as long as it’s forward progress each week, I’m good with it. Because for me, the most critical thing is not how MUCH I write each week, but that I work on the project continually. I don’t know about anyone else, but if I only sporadically look at/work on a story, I just can’t seem to stay in story mode & end up wasting precious time I don’t have reviewing what was written before. I get on my own nerves when I jump around from project to project.

    I don’t set goals for reading, though I do like to look at the end of the year and see what/how much I read (reading will again be down this year as with last year).

    • You’re right, Brenda. Forward progress is the most important thing. If word/scene/chapter counts don’t work for you, find something that does. There’s no right or wrong way to set a goal. 🙂

  6. Depends on the project, but I have a daily word count goal/weekly goals/monthly goals/quarterly goals – all to hit my annual goals. Yes, I’m goal obsessed. Goodreads monitors my reading goals.

    • I used to do the Goodreads Challenge every year, but it was too much pressure. Reading is my escape. I have enough goals to worry about. LOL

  7. My goal is to produce two novels a year, with the possibility of a bonus novel. However, I’ve cut myself some slack since I switched genres to mystery from SF/F. It’s been a learning curve 🙂 I’m about to send the opening chapters and a detailed synopsis to my developmental editor (herself a mystery and SF/F author along with being an editor). Hopefully, will be picking up the pace here. With the next book in the series, the plan will be track words drafted and chapters revised.

    As far as reading goes, my plan was to read a novel a week, but I’ve fallen a bit short of that. I also always have some non-fiction going, lately it’s been a lot of astronomy books, as well as self-help.

  8. Good morning, Sue. Great topic for the middle of the year.

    Writing goals: 2000 words / day. Write 6 days / week. I rarely achieve my goals. When I’m too far off on the word count, I tell myself there wasn’t enough dialogue. I’m not on track, for a multitude of reasons, and I won’t bore you, I’m good at making excuses.

    Reading goals: Keep two books going, one craft of writing and one fiction (always exploring new-to me-writers). Nonfiction is good to grab and read during commercials and for short times that are not to be wasted. Fiction at night to enjoy, explore how other writers do it, and to read without interruption until I can’t stay awake.

    Staying on track: Write every day. Mornings are sacred. Lock the door and protest when other things (“emergencies”) try to rear their ugly head and invade. Feed the addiction (writing), and seek to make it a refuge from the other crap in my life.

    Have great weekend!!!

    • Totally agree about mornings, Steve! It’s my most productive writing time, and must be regarded as sacred, do not disturb time.

      You read during commercials? What a great idea!

      Have a fabulous weekend, sweet friend.

  9. I have no goals, other than working on the current projects: 1. another psychology monograph; 2. a sonnet, final element of a three-act play; 3. a postapocalyptical novel being workshopped.

    After a very bad dream a while ago, I’ve been attending to neglected self care items. I’ve started reading again. (I read an entire whodunit yesterday. Carpe denim, the man says.)

  10. I have a list of writing/reading goals for 2022 taped to the back of my office door. After I saw your post this morning, Sue, I reviewed them. There are 25 goals, and I’m doing well on most of them. I’ve read a lot of good books this year.

    Although I’m doing better on daily word count quotas, I’m not sure I can finish a fourth novel this year. (I write a lot of words, but I also trash a lot of the ones I write.) I feel like Paul Masson: “I’ll publish no book before its time.”

  11. I don’t have set word count goals per se but I do have deadlines…lots of them. Between TKZ posts, articles, teaching occasional classes, and news release/marketing work for the annual Flathead River Writers Conference, external pressures force me to turn out lots of words. Great for discipline.

    Working on my novels almost becomes a guilty pleasure. I sneak away to play hooky from obligations. One novel/year is all I can manage.

    Reading? All day long. Research, beta reading, editing. Unfortunately, fiction for fun gets shoved to the bottom of the TBR file. I try to read at night but soon fall asleep.

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