20 Before 21: Here's how I accomplished my writing goals!

Last year, I set 20 writing goals to complete before I turned 21. This year, I talk about how I did and share my goals for the coming year!

Hey there, friend! 

If you've been hanging around She's Novel for more than a year now, you might remember my 20 Before 21 post. In this post, I shared the 20 writing goals I wanted to achieve before I turned 21.

Well, lo and behold!, a year has passed, I've grown out my pixie cut (pictures to follow, yo), and I am celebrating my 21st birthday in sunny LA. *passes around cake*

So, how did I make out with my 20 writing goals? And what are my writing goals for the coming year? Allow me to share!

Last year, I set 20 writing goals to complete before I turned 21. This year, I talk about how I did and share my goals for the coming year!

# Goals 100% Completed: 12


# Goals Partially Completed: 3


# Goals Uncompleted: 5


1. Finish the 1st draft of The Astral Stone. Check this one off as 100% done! I completed the first draft of The Astral Stone, which you may now know as The Dark Between, in May 2015 (or was it the end of April?).

Either way, it came in at 107,000 words and was one heck of a hot mess. But it was done, and it got a name change, and all was well, baby.

2. Sketch new maps. Many of the place names in my fantasy world for The Dark Between had changed in early 2015, but I hadn't yet taken the time to draw new maps. I did modify my old maps to include the new names, but I'd still like to create fresher, prettier versions at some point.

So, I guess we will consider this goal partially complete.

3. Make character drawings. Last year, I claimed that I wasn't the best artist in the world, but that I could pump out a decent portrait if I set my mind to it. Well, I was wrong. I actually strove quite vehemently to achieve this goal, but friend...it was so not happening.

So let's consider this goal complete for effort's sake, but incomplete in that hey! I don't have any fun drawings to share with you. *cries*

4. Do a 2nd draft edit for The Astral Stone. Or, you know, The Dark Between. And ding, ding, ding! Finally, we have another goal that I completed in full. I began the second draft of The Dark Between in May 2015, and I finished it up four months later at the very end of September.

In this draft, I completed some very heavy developmental edits (read: I rewrote nearly everything) and strengthened the story tenfold. The draft came in at an approximate total of 140,000 words.

5. Get my author website up and running. Tada! Another goal complete. I set up my author website in the fall of 2015, and it recently received a super fun redesign to not only encompass more of my personality, but to share more info on my projects–both fiction and non-fiction.

Click here to check it out!

6. Start drafting some short stories to go along with the Astral Series. This is a current work-in-progress, friends! I began working on a prequel short story about a month ago. It's not done yet, but I'm looking forward to sharing it some time in the next few months.

7. Release those short stories on my author website. Well, we're getting there, friends. But technically speaking, this goal is incomplete.

January 2015 // Shortly before launching SN

January 2015 // Shortly before launching SN

April 2015 // Celebrating my 20th birthday

April 2015 // Celebrating my 20th birthday

8. Continue my Write Chain. Yes, yes, yes! I've been writing every day now for over a year. 398 days to be exact. I estimate that I wrote about 290,000 words of fiction over the last year, which is absolutely crazy to think about.

I've had so much fun continuing my Write Chain, and it's absolutely something I plan to continue doing for many years to come.

9. Do another NaNo. Another goal to mark as complete! I participated in NaNoWriMo 2015 by fast-drafting my second novel, Dreamworld. The first draft ended up being 83,000 words, something I never thought I'd be able to reach in just one month.

10. Write a new synopsis. Woohoo! This is another goal I can cross off my list. You can read the new back cover blurb for The Dark Between here.

11. Create a few #PitMad pitches. I did not complete this goal, but with good reason. I had actually anticipated using NaNoWriMo to do another draft of The Dark Between, which would have gotten me pretty close to querying time.

But both fortunately and unfortunately, the plot bunny for Dreamworld had me totally hooked. I had to get it out of my system, and there was no better time to do that than during NaNoWriMo.

So alas, no #PitMad pitches yet, but we'll see about that in the coming year.

12. Read 35 novels. So happy I completed this goal! I wasn't sure if I was going to make it for much of 2015, but I actually ended up reading 39 books this past year. I hope to read 40 this coming year.

13. Read 5 research books. This one is definitely a partially completed goal. While I didn't read five physical research books, I did read enough internet articles to last me a lifetime. That counts in some respects, right?

14. Find beta-readers. Friends, y'all are so awesome. I didn't have to raise a finger to complete this goal because so many of you offered your services without even being asked. Thank you so much, babes!

September 2015 // The pixie is a growin' out, y'all.

September 2015 // The pixie is a growin' out, y'all.

January 2016 // Look at that full-length bob, friends.

January 2016 // Look at that full-length bob, friends.

15. Prepare a list of questions for beta-readers. I did not get to this goal yet. I'm just now completing final developmental edits on The Dark Between, so I'll likely be writing up this list fairly soon.

16. Do research on traditional and self-publishing. This time last year, I wasn't too sure which path to publishing I wanted to pursue. But now I know I want to traditionally publish The Dark Between and self-publish Dreamworld in order to get both experiences. Yay!

17. Begin researching agents and publishing houses I'd like to work with. This was another goal I didn't complete because of drafting Dreamworld. As soon as I get a bit closer to completing edits on The Dark Between, this goal is going down.

18. Practice writing query letters. This was also a goal I didn't complete because my publishing schedule was pushed back. We'll see about getting this done in 2016!

19. Begin outlining book two of the Astral Series. This one I did complete! I wanted to make sure I knew the basics of where each character's storyline was headed in order to plant series foreshadowing in the first book. So, I took time this year to not only outline book two, but to rough outline the entire series.

20. Reward myself with each goal I complete. What a fantastic goal to end on! I did do a much better job of reveling in my accomplishments this year, and I know it's helped shape my work ethic for the better, as well.

Overall, I think I did a pretty decent job of achieving these 20 writing goals. It was definitely a tall order, but I worked hard, and it's so rewarding to know I got most of it done.

Last year, I set 20 writing goals to complete before I turned 21. This year, I talk about how I did and share my goals for the coming year!

Friends, I am so excited to tackle my next year in writing. Of course, I'm not planning to achieve 21 writing goals this year (ain't nobody got time for that!), but I do have a few fun plans up my sleeve.

Here are my goals for rocking 2016 and beyond:

1. Prepare The Dark Between for publishing. The Dark Between, my multi-POV epic fantasy, is currently in editing mode. I'm working on the third draft now, where I'm finishing up developmental edits and line editing to make the book actually read like a novel.

I hope to finish this draft (I'm already on chapter five!) and do one more line edit, then ship it off to potential agents in late 2016 or early 2017. *crosses fingers*

2. Move forward with Dreamworld. Dreamworld, the novel I drafted during NaNo 2015, is currently prepared for editing. I hope to complete developmental edits and an initial line edit in 2016. I'd love to publish this novel in 2017, so completing these edits would be a great step forward.

3. Get to researching agents and publishing houses. This is one of the goals that I didn't get to this past year, but it's also one that I definitely need to accomplish in the coming year if I want to begin querying said agents and publishers.

4. Read 40 books. Okay, I mentioned this one above, but I'd love to read 40 books in the coming year. As a novelist, reading is so important for growth, and it's certainly not something I want to ignore. Good news? I'm already 10 books in!




Let's Chat!

So friend, I hope you've enjoyed this inside peak at how I set and achieve writing goals. It's been such an amazing year, and I know the best is yet to come.

Are you a goal-setter yourself? Share what you're aiming to achieve in the comments below, and don't forget to have a piece of cake on me!

Did you enjoy this post?

Sign up below to receive weekly exclusive writing tips + tricks and
a personal invite to the She's Novel Facebook community.

Spam is so not our jam. We respect your privacy, friend!

Kristen Kieffer is a writer of fantasy fiction and the creative writing coach behind She's Novel. She's made it her mission to help aspiring authors write sensational novels because obliterating expectations is her jam. Her other passions? Coffee and Tolkien, of course!

Kristen is the author of the upcoming The Books of Maveryn series and The Astral Series, as well as several non-fiction books for writers.