If you follow me on social media, you probably know how obsessed I’ve become with planners and planning. Indeed, some of you may have taken the course I offered at Savvy Authors. So naturally, when Alexandra Haughton mentioned this blog hop, I HAD to jump in. Seriously, what an excellent idea–a bunch of authors all sharing how they get organized! You can find all the different authors on the main hop page.
When I started out as a writer, I had a day job and I just wrote when the words came. I did trade shows as part of my day job, so I ran around a lot, which helped keep me from packing on too many pounds, even though the rest of my work life was pretty sedentary.
And then life changed, as it is wont to do. I gave up the trade show job for an office job. Better money, more security…less exercise. And I sold my first book, which meant I had to write more books. Under contracted deadlines. To contracted lengths. Oh, my. And I decided to self-publish some work. And volunteered to put a story in a charity anthology. And then volunteered to edit and organize another anthology.
I find it easiest to keep all my appointments on my iPhone, but I’ve always written my manuscripts mostly by hand, doing the first edit as the words go from notebooks to the computer, so it only made sense that once I started getting into using a paper planner I would become part of the #planneraddicts society. I have tried pretty much every planner system out there and the one that works for me is the Plum Paper Planner. My new one JUST started this month, so it’s looking rather barren. (Especially since it HADN’T started when I wrote this post in August, so I just stuck some stuff in so you could see how it WILL look.)
Here’s my Plum. Although it divides the day into Morning/Afternoon/Evening, I don’t split mine like that. I keep the earlier blocks for to-dos and appointments and the bottom box for long-term goals like writing and fitness. Next to each little typewriter is the number of words I’ve set as a goal for myself to write that day. The actual word count goes on the paper, and if I make my goal I get a pretty sticker or I decorate with colored markers. Likewise, I am doing PiYo to get myself moving again. So I have stickers to remind me which PiYo workout I am supposed to do each day.
This is what keeps me on track. Now, I do keep appointments in my phone’s calendar and I manage my boss’s Google calendar as part of my day job.Frankly, for appointments, I just find a gadget that will send you a reminder makes sense. But for long term tracking of what I have to do, when I have to do it, etc, I love paper. All the projects for the day job also go in the planner. Besides, all kinds of studies show that writing things down makes them stick in a way that putting things into digital media does not.
Maybe you’ve seen this GIF…I don’t know where it comes from, or I’d add attribution:
Since I really, really hate the “Panic” stage and I even more hate the “All the Work While Crying” stage, I give myself a certain number of words I need to do each day. But I have learned that I am not good at doing things “for me.” I have to do them for someone else. I will kill myself to be sure I don’t let someone else down. So what that means is that for my current project, I’ve hired an editor and have to have it to her October 16. It’s going to be single title length, so I’ve budgeted myself at 90k words. If I write a few more or a few less, that’s fine, but this is just to give me broad target to hit. My contemporaries used to come in at 65k, so it won’t be the same for every book.
I ONLY PLAN ONE WEEK AT A TIME. Seriously. I can’t stress this enough. If you have any kind of mood disorder, as so many of the writers I know do (my own are OCD and depression), it’s so, so easy to blame yourself when you don’t meet goals. So I try to keep my deadlines reasonable and pad them at the beginning. That way when I screw up, screw off, or otherwise miss a deadline, I can just add more words to the next week, or write on a couple of days I’ve given myself off. (And yes, I schedule days off.)
But there are also publicity and marketing deadlines to keep. So for every project, I have a “project sheet,” which was inspired by a number of my Twitter friends in response to my own desperation. It’s laid out in a way I can keep track of it (I think the wonderful Bree Bridges inspired the layout originally) and I can write notes in about what blogs I tried, whether there was reaction, what promotional stuff I did, etc. I laminate the project sheet, punch it to fit into my planner, pop it in the planner, and write on it with sharpies as I go along. I enter dates, comments, etc. (Here’s a nifty tip you may not know: If you write on a laminated sheet with a Sharpie and want to erase, go over it with a dry erase marker, then wipe off!)
I also have a couple of other recommendations for you folks who are trying to organize not just your own days, but your story’s days. Check out this post on Aeon Timeline for tracking time in an individual book or in a series. My current manuscript tracks (*shudder*) nine generations of three intertwined families. Without Aeon, I’d be completely lost.
All the authors participating in the hop are giving away prize packs. There was so much great organizational stuff and so many gift cards and free books offered that the organizers had to divide them into six, that’s right, SIX, separate prizes! There’s a rafflecopter at the bottom of this post, so jump on in and enter!
Here’s my prize, which is only PART of ONE of the prizes! Washi, To-Do stickers, a pad, and an ARC of LOST. Enter at the bottom for this and a TON more stuff!