Plan What You Can and Write the Rest

“The only thing you can control in your career is your writing,” Beverly Jenkins RWA 2016

You get nowhere without hard work and your eye on the prize. Just the way the cookie crumbles. If you are driving your career by the seat of your pajama pants, get a hold of yourself. It’s time to sit down and figure things out.

I shared photo’s of different planners last week.  I’ve talked on social media about business plans and why you need one whether you are an unpublished noob, or a well established NYT bestseller with lots of zero’s in your check.  Now I want to talk about the day to day planning.

It’s hilarious that I am even writing this article. I am twenty four hours off an eight hour iv treatment. I’ve been ill for five days, and I haven’t even been able to look at anything white since Sunday morning without wanting to rip my own eyeballs out.

Irony blows. Murphy lives in my house. The universe has a perverse sense of humor.

This will actually work in our favor, dear reader, because I can tell you exactly what happens when planning fails you. So keep reading. We will solve all the worlds problems in less than 1,000 words. Ok, that’s probably laying it on thick, but I can’t see how you can go wrong making goals.

Here’s the trickle down to today right where I am sitting in bed listening to the two beagles snore.  I wanted to write three to four books this year. I wanted to write more than I didn’t write. I wanted to write articles. I wanted to read about writing. Really, I wanted an excuse to read everything I could get my hands on and call it “researching the markets,” but let’s stick with the writing thing for now.

I am already looking at the goals I wrote for August. I wanted to finish book #2 and start book #3. #3 has to be written fast, so it needs to be short because NaNoWriMo is coming up in October. I want to enter a contest in December, so I need to finish rewrites. There is tons of stuff here.

This is week number #4 for August. I need to finish book #2.  If I look at my other goals that’s the big one.  Moving it to the top. Everything else falls after my writing time, which is why I am writing this article instead of my book don’t ya know!  

Why did I pick that goal? Because everything else moves off of it.  If I look at all the stuff, finishing means I can move forward. I need to get it done.
I need to read submissions for critique group and stop stalling on posting my own work. It's been ready for a week.  

I want this article out by Friday. I need to have the idea, write, edit, find pictures, and put it all together. Ok, that’s item number three.

I want to read about writing.  I finished “Save the Cat.” I need to pick another book.  Looking at my kindle, I have several samples already downloaded to remind me of what to read next.  A couple are based on recommendations.  Most books are sold to other people on recommendations. Just putting it out there.  Anyways, reading can happen anywhere, so having book ready while I sit in yet another doctor’s office waiting for the Doctor who is always late makes a good use of my time. Must pick new book is goal #4.

I need to start book #3. I can’t do that until book #2 is finished. While I might ruminate on the next book, it makes no sense to start one until I ready.  This is at the very bottom of the list.
I have seven days in a week. I know I will take at least two of them off. I might do writing business, but I won’t write new stuff.  In looking at a five day work week, what can I do to divide up the goals and create a plan of action?

I don’t want to talk big rocks, and little rocks.  I don’t want to make a mind map. I am not looking to create the next big organizational insight. Here’s the real deal. You have to do the damn work. Writing is hard. Put on your big girl panties, the comfy ones not the thong, and get on with it.

Go back up the quote I put at the top.  What’s the one thing you can control? Your writing. It’s number one on my list of the week.  That means I need to write five days this week. Doesn’t matter which five, it just needs to be five. That goes in the planner.  If you want to make that a word count goal, do it. If it motivates you to work by scene, put how many you want to get done. However you see the goal as a carrot you want to catch, write it down.

The writing of it is important. It’s a plan now. We really are motivated by plans. We like to check little boxes, cross the t’s, dot the I’s and put little smiley faces in the margins.

Now, I need to read submissions and submit. I know I will do that on Friday. I write that down. I also know on days when I am heavily editing or critiquing, I normally won’t write new material.  There is one of the days I won’t be writing.  I now have six other ones to work with.

Blog work. I normally map things out very straight forward. Monday I pick an idea and let it percolate in my mind. Maybe I write a title, or a couple of sentences. Tuesday, I write the article. Wednesday I finish the article or edit. Thursday I find photo’s. Friday I publish.  This week is a bear. It’s Wednesday and I am just now writing. It means I won’t have as much time to let it rest. Oh well, I publish on Friday’s. Guess I better get on with it.

Social media needs have to be met. I can’t keep a conversation going with people if I don’t talk. I am shy. I don’t like it, but it’s part of the deal. I put that in my planner as a six day a week commitment. I don’t get credit for the first three days of this week. That doesn’t mean I quit. It means I get to try harder tomorrow. It’s in the book.

By now, I have a general idea how my week will turn out.  What highlights I need to make sure and hit to execute the writing career I want right now.

But things don’t always work out the way you want them to. Best laid plans and all that. Listen, that’s why there is white out tape. Use it. Put a smiley face over the stuff that didn’t happen.

My week looks nothing like the photo I posted last Friday. I’ve taken a huge kick in the teeth having time off for being ill. I know it happens in my world. I’m learning to rest when I need to, but I have to keep going. Plans help me to do just that.

I’ve heard unpublished writers say, “Well, I work, I have kids, I have a life. I can’t write all the time.”
My response is, “Ok, you aren’t ready yet. Do what you need to do. I’ll be here either way.  But would you like to sit down and talk about your goals?”

Sometimes, I think people want exactly what I want. To write all the time. Think about writing all the time. Talk about writing all the time. They don’t. Plans and goals are different for each one of us. Having them written helps us stick to the values and intentions of our heart and not be lead astray by other people’s. We need those goal posts to kick our own ball into.

Yes, plans, goals and organizational tips are in a zillion books. Really, they all say the same thing, just in a zillion different ways. Stop being lazy. Do the work. Get the rewards.

It’s that simple.

Did this help you see how to use a planner in your everyday as a writer? What are your plans for the rest of the year? Comment below. I would love to hear from you.