Kay: Success Starts with a Plan

New-Years-GnomesWhen I think about writing New Year resolutions, usually I write just one, something along the lines of “I resolve to be a better person.” That leaves me lots of wiggle room, which I appreciate as the months roll by. In the last year or two, what with one thing and another, I haven’t been writing as much as I’d like to, and I miss it. This year I want to bear down on productivity. Having goals, plans, or resolutions—as many of the Ladies do—and revisiting them periodically is one way to stay focused. This year, what I’d love to accomplish is finish the WIP, which is book 1 of 3 (almost there); plot and finish draft of book 2; plot book 3; write my bookstore short story/novella idea; develop one other idea. That’s a lot, so I decided to:

1) Set measurable goals

How can I get it all done? Math! First, decide how many words each project needs to be. Does book 2 want 80K words, or 90K? If I want that draft finished by July 1, how many words do I have to write every week to meet that goal? Same with the bookstore novella. Can I tell that story in 10K words? Maybe. When do I want it finished, and how much do I have to write in what time frame to do so? Who will help me brainstorm book 3 and the “one other idea”? And when will we do it? Those goals go in my calendar. If I have to make adjustments, at least I’ll have thought about them, and redone the math, so I can:

2) Stick to a realistic schedule

See point 1. If book 2 wants 80K words, then by beginning January 12 and to finish by July 1, I need to write 3,200 words every week. Is that do-able? At the pace that I write, I need to figure on about two hours per day. If I can’t find two hours, my choices are to push back my finish date, or sacrifice something else to gain the time. It’ll be a challenge, but it’s doable if I:

3) Write every day

I love to write. It’s frustrating when I don’t know where I’m going or who these awful people are cluttering up my pages. But I like solving the problems, creating the characters, finding the story. If nothing’s happening for me on the pages, though, floundering doesn’t help. So it’s important to:

4) Also rest

The best story idea came to me this year when I was watching a foreign-language newscast. Sleep, read, go to the movies, see a play, take a hike. Do something different. Get refreshed.

That’s it. That’s my plan. We’ll see how it goes! And meanwhile, best wishes to all for a good year, writing and otherwise!

13 thoughts on “Kay: Success Starts with a Plan

  1. (-: I love a plan that includes sleep! Sounds very practical and do-able! I really ought to use my calendar more in my planning. I tried last year by posting contest deadlines a week before they were due . . . but I didn’t post the smaller mileposts in my calendar. Deadlines. Motivating half the time, guilt-inducing the other half. I never know which they are going to be, so I still like them.

    • I’ve been using my calendar, and already I’m backsliding! Getting used to sticking to a timely schedule is hard, and many things that we want to do or have to do intervene all the time. But I’ll keep at it for a while—I’m hoping it will help me prioritize tasks and get more things done, or at least started. We’ll see!

      • Simple, do-able, measurable, lots of writing and time to recharge the batteries – I like your plan, Kay! And very glad to hear you’re getting close on the WIP, I’m really looking forward to reading it 🙂

      • In addition to a calendar, I use a spreadsheet, and coincidentally, today and tomorrow I’m setting up my 2015 spreadsheets for writing and for my day job. I’m actually excited about it because I have a weird love of spreadsheets. I just have to be careful to check myself when I start to go too far, frex, building totally unnecessary Macros to show my progress (or lack thereof) in multiple ways, when seeing it one way is enough.

        • I spent sooooo much time last year trying to figure out how to create a graph to show my progress. I finally got something ugly, and I wound up not using it. I guess I needed to “build a macro” (-:. No, I didn’t. I needed to write. Maybe I’ll try gold stars for every 500 words this year. Could put them across the top of my computer frame . . . .

  2. Have you done project planning in your past? This seems like you’ve had practice. I’ve only been editing Demons Don’t for a couple of months, but I’m itching to start work on the next book in the series and hoping it will be easier since I figured out so much of the world-building for the first one.

    • I’ve been the editor of magazines, so I’m used to looking at long-term calendars and figuring out due dates of multiple pieces of whatever. I know what you mean about itching to get to the next book—a lot of the time it’s the most fun when it’s fresh. It’s so exciting, though, that you’re in the revising stage for Demons Don’t! Before long, you’ll be chugging along on book 2.

  3. I like your plan, Kay. I need to follow yours and take the desired word count and deadline and backward map what needs done by when. I have graduation plans that depend on it.

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