writing

How I plot out my year

If you have followed my blog at all, you know by now that I am a bit of a planner. I love to write things down on a list and then, more importantly, cross them off. So satisfying. 5 stars, highly recommend.

One thing I wasn’t great at, however, was planning my writing year. A task many a guru has lectured me on but I ignored. I had a daily planner. What did I need a yearly goal list for? Oh, sweet summer child me. It turns out the daily planner is more effective when you also have a yearly goal list. Who knew?

To show you what I mean, I’ll give you a quick example of how I plot out the year. I start with a blank page, like this.

The first thing I do is figure out how many books I’d LIKE to release in a year. Once I put it on paper, I can figure out if that is a realistic goal or not. Then I take out a PENCIL (because trust me, you’ll make changes) and I circle the months that I know I can’t release a book, either for market instability or personal reasons. For instance, September is a stressful time at my house with two school kids, so I no longer release in September. I’ve learned my lesson.

After I’ve deleted some months for releases, I then figure out what months I would LIKE to release in and mark those accordingly in the gray box. The release month is the key to the planning. It dictates the rest of the year. You work backwards from that point.

For instance, if I have a June conflict, I mark it. But April, say, looks good. So I mark that box as a Release. Then I know the month after should have a giveaway of said book, and the month before should be a cover reveal. Do that with each release.

Once you know what month you want to release your book, then you again, work backward from that date/month. How long is it going to take you to write and self-edit your manuscript? A year, six months, three weeks? Only you know how fast you work. Pencil in where each draft would live. I need about three months per draft, and I do at least three drafts, so if I wanted an April Release, I’d need to be on draft three by January to make that goal work.

My release date/month also lets me know when I need to have my book to my editor (every editor has a different window of time they need.) It tells me when I need to book my cover designer (prior to the cover reveal.) I think you get the idea. The whole plan revolves around that release date. Find those, and work backwards.

THEN, once you have a version of the yearly plan that realistically works with your schedule, you can take those big monthly goals and break them down into achievable DAILY tasks. For instance, if I know I need to be in draft three of a manuscript in January, I plot out daily how many chapters I need to finish each day in order to reach that goal. Again, I do this all in pencil because life happens.

The yearly planner can work for authors, or for life in general. Putting a large goal in the gray box and smaller goals in the white. Seeing the bigger picture can help you figure out how you can break those goals in to smaller, achievable tasks.

Lets make all the plans and then cross those tasks off!

Danielle Bannister, author and list maker

2 thoughts on “How I plot out my year”

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