There’s one week till Christmas and two weeks until 2018.
How did your writing year go?
Do you feel you accomplished what you wanted to?
Maybe you don’t know what you wanted to accomplish.
I used to go through the year, stumbling along, writing what and when I wanted.
It was part of the joys of not relying on my writing to pay the bills, not making a business out of it and writing purely for the pleasure and as a hobby.
But I didn’t necessarily get a lot done.
It doesn’t matter whether you’re writing fiction for business or pleasure, if you want to be productive and get words down, you need to be organised.
So that’s what I’m looking at today. How to get yourself organised and ready for 2018.
You could do this in your evenings, spare time or in those moments of quiet over the holiday break (with a mince pie and glass of something).
Where To Start?
Yeah, it’s daunting. You’ve got twelve whole months to plan for and it seems like a long time to plan for.
Plus, you might have a lot you want to accomplish…or maybe you haven’t got a clue.
So, we start at the beginning.
What do you want to accomplish in 2018?
What are your goals?
When December 2018 rocks around, what do you want to have to show for it?
It doesn’t have to be big. Maybe it’s a self-published book, maybe it’s a published short story, maybe it’s a stack of rejection letters that shows that you’ve been querying agents or maybe it’s a first draft of that novel you’ve had in your head for years.
Personally, I want to get into a good routine of writing, editing and publishing books. But I also want to take the lessons I’ve learned from this year to make sure I’m more realistic.
Twelve months might seem like a long time, but they go by so fast.
Being realistic about what you can accomplish is a major part of planning your writing and feeling good about what you manage to achieve. Don’t set yourself up to fail.
If you can only write 500 words a day or every other day, then that’s fine. Plan for that.
You Have Your Goals, Now What?
Now, you decide what you want to work on in the year.
This could be really easy. Maybe you already know what your next project(s) are going to be. Or, this could be painful.
Maybe, when asked what you’re working on next, you just give a shrug.
If you don’t know what you want to work on, you have two options:
- You can leave it open. Wait for inspiration to hit you.
- If you want to meet your goal of writing a book or building a business out of your writing, you can’t wait for inspiration to hit. Instead, you need ideas. You need to go looking for those ideas.
If you’re going with number one then you don’t really need a plan.
Well done, you’re ready for 2018.
However, if you’re going with number two, we need to get those ideas.
Do you have any notebooks lying around with scribbled thoughts and hits of inspiration?
Or maybe you have a character ambling around your head, or a plot point that’s itching to be worked on.
Grab a piece of paper or open a blank document and start free writing around what’s in your head. Let the idea grow and expand. Brainstorm. Work until the story shows itself to you.
Work Out How Long Everything Will Take
This can be the most difficult bit because humans are really bad at realistically knowing how long things take.
We might think, I’ll leave that till later, it won’t take me long. Only to discover that it takes you a couple of hours. (I had this experience booking a holiday once. Boy, did I go to bed late that night.)
The thing is, it’s tough to know how long things take until you’ve already done them and timed yourself.
But, when it comes to writing, there are ways of working it out.
When it comes to writing that first draft, decide on how many words you can write in a day or week. How much time can you spare to get writing?
How many words can you write in that time?
Of course, most writers find they write quicker as time goes on and they get into it, or when the story is flowing. The words will grind to a halt when you hit of a plot problem, and you will hit a plot problem.
So you need to be generous in your estimates.
Work out how many words you will write every day or week. Then decide roughly how long your story or book will be. From there, you can work out how long the writing phase will take you.
For example, I aim to write 1,000 words a day and my books are usually around the 80,000 to 90,000 word mark.
So my first draft will take approximately three months to write.
Editing is trickier because you won’t know how many pages or chapters you’ll necessarily end up with until you have that first draft written. Or how many edits your story will need.
If you have any past experience, you can use that as a guide.
Decide on the number of pages or chapters you’ll edit each day or week.
If you’ve plotted out your story, you might have an idea of how many chapters there’ll be so you can work out how long to give yourself for each edit and the final proofread.
If you have no idea then be generous. I often give myself two months for each edit and one month for the proofread. In reality, it usually takes less than this, but giving longer timeframes allows for bad days, unforeseen circumstances and big problems with the plot or characters.
Write It All Down
There’s no point in making this plan for the year if you haven’t got it written down somewhere visible.
I like to use a spreadsheet, but the problem with that is that I have to go digging around in folders whenever I want to check it.
So, this year I created a printable so I have a clear plan that I can put up on my wall or in my diary where I’ll easily stumble across it or can check it regularly.
I’ve already created my spreadsheet for 2018, which inspired the printable.
Want to see it?
This is my actual publishing plan for 2018 (as it stands now). So, all my surprises are now ruined.
I’ll be putting this onto my own printable and putting that up on the wall of my office, so when I’m planning my weeks throughout 2018, I know what I should be focusing on with my fiction.
Get The Printable
Oops, you missed the free version of this printable. BUT you can now get an even nicer Writing Planner printable for 2018-2019 from the WITW Etsy shop, right here.
Want to know when the freebies are available in future? Just go here to join in the fun.