One of the biggest things I’ve learned in 7.5 years of writing fiction regularly is that there is no one way to do this. Everyone has tons of advice, just like when you’re having a baby for the first time. But ultimately, you have to figure out what is going to work for you–warning: sports metaphor… how you can keep pumping the knees and moving the pile.
It’s taken me kind of a long time to figure out what works for me. Some of the things that worked for me when I was balancing an executive career, being a mama (not a super mom because who can be?), moving and renovating homes, etc., have changed since I’ve become a full-time writer and working from home. You have to be able to adapt and evolve and find your new right way.
For this blog, I’m mainly going to talk about the planner I’m using right now. I know RIVETING!!! Except for you planner junkies out there, I know this is like candy for you. Or at least affirmation, LOL. (Oops, sorry, Gen Z. Shhh… I’m sporting a side part too.)
Here it is… duh duh DUNNNHHHHH!!!
Listen, I’ve never been a planner type. I’ve tried; it’s not that I haven’t tried. But I could never keep up with them. I think it’s because when I had a full-time job, I had my crazy work calendar and then surviving everything else.
But now that I’m a full-time writer, I’m someone that needs structure to my days. And I have to create it myself. What I love about this planner, which I won from my writer friend Tracee during a Washington Romance Writers Mini Session called “The Author Audit,” is that it is so granular but also inspirational.
The planner itself is part of a larger brand offering called “Start Today” and was created by Rachel Hollis, author of Girl, Wash Your Face.
You set your intention for the planner and what one major goal you’re going to work on this quarter. It doesn’t mean you have to achieve your goal in that time if you’re goal is more long-range, but the hope is you find ways to stay motivated through this quarter to work towards achieving it. And then you dig down, quarterly, monthly, weekly, daily.
You look at in the past whether you’ve pushed yourself for more, stayed comfortable, or regressed. You come up with your goal per month and your power word of the month. Weekly you decide on your three big deals and block out time in the week ahead to make sure you’re devoting time to them. And with your five to strive, you find 5 hours minimum a week to devote to achieving your one big goal, so no matter what, you’re prioritizing putting time towards it.
I personally love that there is also a weekly theme song that you choose to help you stay motivated and play when you need it. And you catalog the results you’re going to achieve each week rather than your goals. It is a simple twist in terminology, but it makes you think more positively and what the end result of your efforts should look like.
You also daily capture what you’re grateful for, which I think helps keep you in the right frame of mind. But the daily calendar is really where I do get my mojo from. I make sure I’ve blocked out an hour and fifteen minutes every day for working out and showering, and I try to block out at LEAST four hours to devote to writing.
Since then, I’ve learned that I really have to treat writing as my J-O-B. Otherwise, I will let personal but important matters impinge on that time. And I really have to try not to respond to texts and the like. Or let people know, sorry I’m writing. It’s been a recent learning, but it’s making a big difference already.
So anyhow, I could go on about all the features of this planner, but suffice it to say, it’s been really helping me now that writing is my job. When I don’t plan out my weeks and my days, I notice that I go off track, and I don’t achieve what I need to. And the fact that it’s a big book, but really only covers three months, shows how in-depth it gets. I’ll be wrapping this one up in April–and will try to remember to check back in on how the first three months of planning went.
The last thing I want to mention is Word of the Year. This came to me through my dear friend Keely. The planner highlights your power word for the month, but I constantly remind myself of my word of the year. Keely has had a bunch of us writer friends identifying our word of the year for many years. But this year, my word is DEFY, and I am really digging it. Because I want to defy people’s expectations, but especially my own. It has so much power for me to push beyond any boundaries I have in my head.
Next week, in Pt. 2, I’ll talk about the people I surround myself with–from support writing and sprinting groups to accountability partners and mentors–to set myself up for success.