Using a Planner For Your Writing Schedule

Filed in Writing Tips by on July 28, 2020 0 Comments

The key to having more time to write is to be more organized with our time. Here are some items you can add to your planner to plot your entire writing s...

Do you ever notice that you push off tasks simply because you didn’t add them to your to-do list? A lot of us put writing out of sight, which means it’s out of mind. Then, after a month goes by and we haven’t grown the word count on our writing project, we make up all sorts of excuses as to why we’re no closer to our goals.

Sometimes, the key to having more time to write is to be more organized with our time. That’s where a good old-fashioned paper planner comes in handy. Grab a calendar with monthly and weekly pages, as well as a pencil.

The month view will help you visualize how much time you’ve given yourself to complete the first draft of your manuscript. At a month view, you’ll be able to see exactly how many writing days you’ve given yourself, the word count numbers you’ve achieved each writing session, and any writing milestones you’ve hit during the month.

If you use bullet journaling, use that system to set up the same items below. Are you an iCal lover? You can apply the same process to your digital calendar as you would paper.

Let’s jump into the items you can add to your planner to plot out your entire writing schedule.

Setting Up Your Planner

Determine your word count.

Before you add anything to your planner, you’ll need to set the total word count for the first draft of your manuscript. Here’s a word count cheat sheet to help you figure it out by your genre. Add this total word count to the current month in your planner. At the start of a new month, subtract how many words you wrote the previous month from your total word count goal. Write that new number down.

For example, you decide to start writing an 80,000-word manuscript in August. So you would write 80,000 on the month-spread for August. If you were able to write 10,000 words during the month of August, you would subtract that number from your total word count. Then, on the month-spread for September, you would write 70,000. Do the same thing each month. This will help you keep a visual on the remainder of your writing goal.

Time yourself.

You’re going to need to compile some additional numbers to chart out your writing schedule. First, do a free-writing exercise that focuses on what your book will be about. Set a timer for thirty minutes for this exercise. When the timer goes off, check your word count. That’s how many words you can free-write in half an hour. Multiply that number by two and it’s a good gauge of how many words you can write in one hour.

Schedule your writing blocks.

Take your total word count and divide it by the number of words you can write an hour. For example, if you are aiming for an 80,000-word manuscript and you can write 800 words an hour, at the bare minimum you need 100 hours to write the first draft. That means, if you only write 800 words a day, you need more than three months to write your first draft. So, taking all those numbers into consideration, start penciling writing blocks into your schedule. Pay attention to how far out on the calendar you need to go to give yourself enough time to write your draft.

Rest days are important, too.

If you have a family, a full-time job, an active social life, or other responsibilities that take up time each week, don’t overwhelm yourself by adding in seven writing days on top of everything else you’re doing. Give yourself rest days to recharge and don’t sacrifice other aspects of your life to meet your goal. It’s all about moderation and balance.

Set aside separate times for research.

To avoid major distractions when you should be writing, create separate times in your schedule for research and compiling notes. Let yourself go down rabbit holes during these research time blocks so you can stay focused on writing when the time comes. Anticipate your writing needs. If you know you are going to need information about how a chef would cook a particular meal for a specific chapter, make sure you’ve done your cooking research before it’s time to write that chapter.

Mark your due date.

Now that you have a good grasp on how long it’s going to take you to reach your writing goal, make an achievable draft due date on your calendar. This gives you a date to work toward.

Write down your word count as you go.

One of the best ways to promote self-motivation as a writer is to keep track of your growing word count at the end of each writing session. For each writing block on your calendar, go back, and add how many new words you wrote. This not only helps you track your overall progress, but it will also show you if you’ve been able to increase the number of words you can write just from practice and having a writing routine.

Note and celebrate milestones.

Make sure to highlight or notate in some way any writing milestones you reach and find ways to celebrate. For instance, when you hit 5,000 words in your first draft, note on your calendar the day you reached that milestone. Do the same for 10,000 words and every 10,000 words after that. Be sure to schedule small treats for yourself at these milestones, too. It’s never a bad idea to bribe yourself.

Don’t let your social life slip.

We can all put our blinders on and become too focused on our goals sometimes, causing other areas of our lives to fall by the wayside. Be sure to keep up social engagements and spend time talking with friends and family. You never know where inspiration will come from next.

Be realistic.

The most important aspect of setting a writing due date and incorporating it into your already busy life is to make sure you are realistic about your due date. If you make your writing timeline too short, you’re only going to stress yourself out and that can have negative effects on your writing. If you push your draft due date out too far, you might never finish your first draft. Find a happy balance between the two.

Want to speak with one of our publishing consultants about establishing a publishing timeline for your book? Call 1-866-381-2665.

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About the Author ()

Erika Bennett has been a freelance editor for nearly half a decade. Before joining the Xulon team in 2010, she worked with several first time authors who wanted to test the waters of self-publishing. Her aim is to make sure great books find their way into readers' hands.

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