It’s time to plan for success!
“He who fails to plan is planning to fail.” – Winston Churchill
It would be great if our New Year’s resolutions inspired us past the first few weeks in January. Then we wouldn’t need a plan. It would all come naturally and effortlessly to make changes and get projects done. Unfortunately, life’s not like that. However even if it did work out like that, it still helps to have a concrete plan to reflect back on.
One of the things I start shopping around for in November is my next year’s planner. I’ve tried my hand at bullet journaling. I’m not that artsy. I’ve tried doing it electronically. I need the physical pen and paper for some reason. However, there’s a free website called Pacemaker that I use for project management. It’s free to track two projects at a time, and I find it inspiring to look at it when I fall behind in my word count. Instead of being faced with a seemingly insurmountable goal of writing 90,000-words, it breaks it down to 1,000-words a day for three months. You can put in whatever word count or time frame you want based on your project.
Since I use Pacemaker to track my daily goal of 1,000-words a day, it will adjust the word count automatically for the rest of the month when I do better or worse than that. It keeps me accountable when I’ve slacked off and takes away the panic because I can see that my 1,000-words a day is now 1,300-words a day because I didn’t write for a few days. It helps me stay on track so I don’t have to write several thousand words by the end of the deadline.
Last year, I used an Erin Condren planner to keep track of my writing, marketing and publishing. This is my go-to planner because it gives me a monthly and daily section, along with other bells and whistles. However, I like trying new things (and planners fascinate me). I think one of these days I’ll find the perfect one and it will transform me into Captain Marvel—or at the very least someone who doesn’t forget to pick her child up from Running Club.
This year, I helped fund an Indiegogo project for a hardcover diary called The Tudor Planner. It has beautiful artwork and Elizabethan themes. I’m hoping the pretty pictures and new layout will have me be more diligent about using it.
Basically, you need to find what works for you to help you write goals and put down deadlines to hold yourself accountable for writing—if you don’t have an editor or publisher giving you deadlines.
Once you have your planner, you should jot down some goals. It could be yearly, monthly, weekly or daily. Or all the above. Remember, goals need to be smart.
- Specific – I want to write a novel.
- Measurable – It will be 60,000-words.
- Attainable – I will finish it by March 31, 2019.
- Relevant – I will write a cookbook because I’m a chef. Or I will write a fantasy book because I’m a big fan of that genre.
- Timely – I will write it in three months.
This will give you a destination that you can plan your writing journey around. Using the above example, if your goal is to finish a 60,000-word novel by March 31st, you can break it down by writing 20,000-words a month or about 667-words a day. Put that in your planner as if it’s an appointment and stick to it.
The next thing would be to find time to write those 667-words. There are several ways to go about it. You can set up your writing time each day and don’t get up from the chair until you make your word count. Or you can steal time in 100-word increments here and there. Even the busiest person can find time to get some words in to make their goals happen. Here are some suggestions:
- Wake up a half hour early or go to bed a half hour later.
- Write during your lunch time at your day job.
- Lock yourself in the bathroom at home and write in fifteen minute intervals so no one bothers you.
- Write on the weekends while everyone else is out of the house.
- Don’t go home from work right away. Stop by Starbucks or the library for a half hour.
- Hire a babysitter for a few hours or do a play date swap with another parent.
- Make freezer meals in advance or order take out and use the time you would have preparing a meal to write.
- Skip your favorite television show and write for a half hour or hour instead.
Part of getting organized is to have a plan in place about what you’re going to write as well as when you are going to write. There are plotters, people who plot out everything before they put a word down. There are pantsers, people who sit their butt in the seat and write whatever is in their head. And there are writers who are a mixture of both. Getting your book started can be difficult if you don’t have what you need at your fingertips, and that could be as detailed as a synopsis or a few jotted words for a character sketch. I use The Write Mind Planner by Perry Elisabeth to help organize my character profiles and scenes, but you can use a notebook or journal to help you keep your thoughts organized.
USA Today bestselling author, Jamie K. Schmidt, writes erotic contemporary love stories and paranormal romances. Her steamy, romantic comedy, Life’s a Beach, reached #65 on USA Today, #2 on Barnes & Noble and #9 on Amazon and iBooks. Her Club Inferno series from Random House’s Loveswept line has hit both the Amazon and Barnes & Noble top one hundred lists. The first book in the series, Heat, put her on the USA Today bestseller list for the first time, and is a #1 Amazon bestseller. Her book Stud is a 2018 Romance Writers of America Rita® Finalist in Erotica. Her dragon paranormal romance series has been called “fun and quirky” and “endearing.” Partnered with New York Times bestselling author and actress, Jenna Jameson, Jamie’s hardcover debut, SPICE, continues Jenna’s FATE trilogy.