What’s the hardest part about writing? DOING IT! You can have the greatest ideas in the world, but setting aside the time to sit down and put pen to paper (or fingertips to keyboard) is a whole different story. So how do I help my authors skirt the deadly territory of “writer who isn’t writing”? I help them make a personalized writing plan.
A writing plan requires only two elements: picking a date and committing to a time span during which you plan to be writing. If it sounds simple, that’s because it is! But simple is not always easy. That’s why I’ve put together an exercise for creating a chart you can use to successfully complete your writing plan this week—and beyond.
Seven Steps to a Personalized Writing Plan
Step 1: Take out a sheet of paper and your favorite pen or marker. You can also open a new document on your computer, if you’re all digital like that.
Step 2: Give yourself an inspiring headline. Examples include “My Wonderful and Wise Weekly Writing Plan” or “How I’m Going to Be a Writer This Week” or “My Week of #Winning at #Writing.” Whatever works to get your inner scribe’s blood pumping!
Step 3: Take an honest look at your weekly calendar. Writing requires free time—but less than you’d think. Review the commitments you already have and see where you have openings available for writing. No time slot is too small, as long as you stick to it. Many books have been written in 10-minute increments!
Step 4: Chart your plan for the week. Draw up a visual version of your commitment. Create four columns:
- Day of the week
- Number of minutes you commit to writing
- Time of day you will write
- Blank column for your “Success!” checkmarks
Using your weekly calendar to choose time slots that will actually work, fill in the first three columns. (Leave the “Success” column blank, so you can add your checkmark when you complete your commitment each day. Note that I pre-filled the “success” checkmarks in this example, because I believe in you!!)
|Day of the Week||Commitment||Time Slot||Success?|
|Monday||15 minutes||6:00am (kids still asleep)||✔|
|Tuesday||45 minutes||12:15pm (during lunch break)||✔|
|Wednesday||15 minutes||6:00am (kids still asleep)||✔|
|Thursday||45 minutes||12:15pm (during lunch break)||✔|
|Friday||90 minutes||8:00pm (Friday night “me time”)||✔|
|Saturday||15 minutes||7:00am (kids still asleep)||✔|
|Sunday||90 minutes||2:00pm (coffee shop writing sesh)||✔|
Step 5: Place your writing chart somewhere you will see and use it. Print it out or tear it out of your notebook. Then post it on the fridge, next to your computer, in your car—wherever you know you won’t be able to miss it. I find it’s helpful to set my writing dates in my Google calendar. Others use a phone-based reminder app so they get a pop-up message when it’s time to write. Whatever works for you. The key is to remember your writing commitment—and then to actually complete it!
Step 6: Adjust your commitment as you go. Our lives never turn out exactly as we’d planned. Maybe you were up all night with a sick kiddo, or your boss called a last-minute meeting over the lunch break. No need to panic; flexibility and self-forgiveness are the keys to the writing journey. (And the human journey, but that’s a different blog.) That said, if you have to miss your scheduled writing period try to squeeze in even a tiny make-up session at some other time that day. My personal mantra is this: “I can always write for 15 minutes.” I don’t care how much else I have going on—I can always squeeze in 15 minutes. As long as you write at all, you get your checkmark!
Step 7: Start again next week! Each week is a fresh start. Go back to Step 1, and create your week’s writing plan with the wisdom you’ve gained your first week.
The writing plan is all about consistency over quantity. Write every day, even just a little bit. That said, if you complete your plan three weeks in a row, you may find yourself shocked by how much content you were able to create. Happy writing to you!
Love + Books,