writing

Looking ahead

For those unaware, I am a BIT of a planner. I’m a sucker for a To-Do list and old-school paper planners. Planning helps relieve anxiety about WHEN I’ll have time to do the projects I want to do. It’s taken me several years to settle on something that works for me. I look at the bigger picture, then break it down into smaller bits.

For instance, here is my current plan for 2022.

An ambitious plan to be sure.

So, for 2022, I want to try for four book releases. IF I want that to happen, I have to start with the bigger yearly picture. WHEN in the year COULD I release a book? What days within those months are realistic? Once the month is selected for release, I work backward from that.

My cover designer needs about 4 months in advance to book, so in the white space four months prior to a release, I jot down a note to contact my designer. My editor needs roughly the same amount of time. The designer/editor typically give me the final versions of what I need the month prior to release which make the Cover Reveal months busy. Lots of graphics need to be made for marketing once you have the cover, ARC teams need to be assembled once you have your final draft…so in many ways, the month before your release will be busier than your release months, which is something to think about when looking at that big picture.

After marking down the due dates for the designer/editor, I then focus on WHEN I’ll write each project. After ten years, I realized I tend to write four drafts of each story (sometimes five.) The first draft takes me about three months. (I have a day job so writing takes longer.) The second draft about three months as well. Then a month each for drafts three and four as there is less to clean up in those passes. That means one book takes me about eight months. Um, how are you going to release FOUR books in one year if it takes you eight months to write one book?

I PLAN

I’m not starting draft one of all four projects in January. Instead, I write several projects at once so that there is always chain of books moving down the production line. For example:

Every day I write one or two chapters on a project (depending on the day.) I might write draft one of a book M-W, then do draft two of another project Th-F, then spend the weekend looking over the third draft of another project.

I’m starting a draft one of a project now that won’t release until June. Nine months from now. My February release is going to the editor in December which means I’m working on the last draft of that. The August Release? Draft one is already done. The November release? I haven’t even begun an outline for it yet, but that’s okay, because there is time to do that. And I have a few other projects for 2023 that are in later drafts as well. Yeah, I have a release plan for 2023 and 2024. Like I said. I’m a planner.

Is that Paul Rudd?

But Danielle, what if there is a project you want to do sooner than when you have planned for it? Then I shift things around. Plans aren’t immovable. In fact, in my paper planner, things are always in pencil because life happens. But when I have a bigger picture, I can turn those yearly goals into monthly goals, and those monthly goals into daily goals. Then the goal of four releases in one year doesn’t feel so daunting. It feels manageable.

This isn’t just something for writing. This works for any project that is going to take a long time to finish. Focus on when it needs to be done by and then work backwards. Make monthly goals, then using those monthly goals, make daily goals. And then, everyday, you’re working toward your endgame. (Yes, I had to insert a Marvel reference.)

An example of how you could use the boxes

Got a big project but aren’t sure where to start? You can use my template. Put the major goal in the gray area. The rest of the area are the monthly tasks you need to do in order to achieve your big picture goals.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, it’s time to tick off some of those boxes on todays To-Do list.

Danielle Bannister, writer and planner of all the things.http://bit.ly/DanielleBannisterNewsletter

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