Planning Your Year in Writing

A blank page can be terrifying, and amazing.

This year, I’ve decided to write an article on writing once a month on my blog. This is January’s writing entry.

Beginning in December, I started making plans for my writing projects for this year. After all, I love lists and planning. Following through is a little more difficult but a list helps me substantially. How much or little you plan to write is entirely up to you. Some people make loose goals, such as writing a little every day. Others are more specific; a certain amount of words per day, week or month. One author told me they plan every project and detail two years in advance. No matter what you decide, here are a few tips to help you enjoy your writing this year.

Write your goals down.

Whether it’s on paper, in a digital document or on social media, commit your goals somewhere. This will help you keep track of them and you an see what you’ve accomplished, as well as what you still need to do. You can also add new plans as you think of them. I prefer a digital document since I can edit them as I go, and I always have access to them. You can include all of the things below, along with a projected word count or minute or hour count.

Challenge yourself.

What that challenge is varies by person. It could be a writing style, medium, genre, point of view, or something else. You don’t have to do this in every single goal you set; writing is a test in and of itself. Don’t forget to also include something familiar so that you’re not completely overwhelmed. For example, if you’re writing in first person POV for the first time, write in a genre you’re familiar with. This might stop you from rage quitting somewhere down the line.

Plan timed goals.

This might be yearly, seasonal, monthly, weekly, daily or anything in between. It is entirely up to you. I plan monthly goals because weekly and daily are too much of a strain for me. But you might want to write a certain amount of words in a year or in a season; or finish a whole novel, short story, or a certain amount of chapters.

Allow for wiggle room.

The unexpected happens, so don’t plan your writing on a tight schedule (unless you think you can do it, even if the unexpected happens). Make goals that are reasonably obtainable but still challenging. If you don’t complete a goal, try rolling it over to the next time period.

Talk to other authors.

This is invaluable in my opinion. Communicating with other authors might help to motivate you or help you find new ideas, even if you’re writing in different genres. How much or little you communicate is up to you but I do recommend trying it. I will now shamelessly plug my writing Discord group, Writing Vicissitudes.

Bonus: Project Outline

As a bonus, here’s an example of what I use to plan my novels. I don’t always fill out every section; sometimes this happens during the writing process. Additionally, I have these projects divided into sections: current, future and past (at the bottom of the document). All future projects are divided into categories; standalone, and various series that I’m working on (so far there are three).

Name: Title of the novel.
GenreHopefully self-explanatory.
Premise:  A short description of what the story is about.
In Depth:  All the heavy planning goes here. This might be 15 words or 1,000. In addition to notes, I include specific events in the book that will happen. I also include specifics about the characters when necessary. I pants a lot so character planning happens for me as I’m writing the book.
Ending: I have to include this section because I have a nasty habit of writing endlessly with no end in sight. I have to plan the ending or it will never end. Just ask that one novel I wrote that’s  127,000 words still not finished.
Cover: Making covers for novels helps my motivation. I like to use Canva or make my own in Photoshop, although there are other places you can make them for free. This section for me details what I want the cover to look like.
Estimated Word Count: I update this as I write if necessary but it gives me a guideline that I normally don’t go over. Except for that one time. Some people can’t estimate this before hand and just have to find out when they’re finished; that’s okay.
Playlist: This is everything to me. I can write without music but not an entire novel. I make a playlist for the novel or the main character to get me into their mindset and keep me there as I write.
Date: I’ll put an amount of time here, such as ‘January 2020’, so I know I want the project finished within that month. Some projects say something like ‘January 2020 – December 2020’, which means they’re planned to be finished within the year and I’ll have a more specific amount of time later, likely when I complete some other projects. 

 

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