What is a Writing Plan and How to Use It

In case you haven’t already noticed, I’ve been spending quite a bit of my time planning and organizing things out for next year. I have multiple projects in various stages of the process. I was considering, for a very, very short time, to limit myself to one big project at a time. Just go full steam with it and keep going until it’s done, or at least technically out of my hands for the time being before moving on to something else.

It sounded great, at first. Projects should be completed faster, ready for whatever they were meant for. I’d only have to really focus on one thing at a time. In theory, this was perfect. Until I realized I can have daily burn out.

I tried this for just over a week. By day 2, I wanted to throw everything on that project out. I quit for the day to stop myself from doing just that. On day 3, I tried to take breaks from the project and fill it in with household or business related tasks more frequently than normal. I continued this until I realized I was no more productive on that one project than I had been when I was trying to balance multiple projects.

When I really evaluated what was happening, I think it came down to the various stages of the processes each project goes through and how they make me feel. By only working on one project I was keeping myself in one frame of emotion that that project was in at that time. When I have multiple projects going, I can switch it up if need be.

For example when a new idea first comes to me, there is this feeling of hope, potential, and how great I could make it. Eventually it will get to a point where things can be frustrating, from finding the right words, the right format, or something is just not working right. Trying to work through those stages, forcing it, doesn’t work well for me. I have to walk away, and if I’m not walking away to another project, it will be to something else completely. If its still “working hours”, I need to be working on work. Eventually, you get to the end of the project, emotions are mixed. Is it good enough? But, it’s also done, there is that feeling of accomplishment.

So what does my experiment have to do with this post? I began creating a writing plan. My writing plan is not my editorial calendar, or even in any way part of my calendar. It is more a combination of a schedule and a project planner. Either way it lays out each and every project I am currently working on or plan to during 2016.

I’m sure there are multiple types of writing plans, and different versions of what they are. I’ve seen some that were primarily an editorial calendar, others that contained the level of detail a project planner would.

What my writing plan is:

  • It is where I can brainstorm and outline projects/stories
  • Each project gets its own detailed creation/production timeline
  • Each project has a place to keep track of resources, research sources, ideas, and notes
  • I can create separate task lists for each project based on its needs
  • I can keep track of images, illustrations, documents, and so on I want to include or use.
  • It is where I can keep track of the processes each project goes through

Once I had all my current and later 2016 projects set up in my writing plan I transferred dates and tasks for January into my editorial calendar. Most of these don’t go into to much detail about what I need to do for that project. I did include the project name or abbreviation and the stage or some shorthand. The writing plan itself has far more detail about what I need to accomplish that day.

I also added any release and launch by dates into my calendar. The final thing I transferred into my calendar are dates/timeframes that important tasks are necessary to complete for a specific project. For example getting printing quotes or deciding on a particular vendor.

The last Thursday of each month is my next month planning day. When I’m reviewing January and planning for February, I’ll fill in February, and so on each month.

I really wanted to include all of this in my editorial calendar, but it is big already, adding all of this would make it really difficult when on the go. My writing plan is still a work in progress as I see what I need it to be. I thought about including a template for what I’m doing, but each project that was added was laid out a little different.

A writing plan can be digital, created in a notebook (which is what I did), on plain paper or graph paper, in a journal, or a binder. The choice is really up to you and what you need it to be. Eventually I will transfer it all to a binder, so pages can be moved around and added when needed. I do plan on creating templates to use for each type of project, along with generic checklists for things such as marketing. I’ll probably print a bunch of each and keep them in a folder in the back of the binder for when the next idea strikes.

Once I work out the bugs, I’ll post an update with how it’s going and the templates for you to download if you’d like for free.

How to you keep track of what projects you’re working on?

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