One of the things I try to do at the beginning of the year is create a planning document (as partially pictured in the screenshot above) which outlines the stories I plan to write for the year, and then try to update that plan quarterly. As a planning document, it’s not meant to be cast in stone. Rather, it’s intended to be a road map, something to give me guidance. In the years that I’ve dedicated to self-publishing rather than traditional publishing, I’ve expanded the document to include publication dates and production times.
But it’s all rough. This is something I’ve been doing for five years or so now, and if there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s that stuff happens. Life happens. Emergencies can throw the schedule out of whack, a story can prove to be more difficult, or other stories suddenly appear and shoulder the planned work out of the way. It’s a tentative plan, an attempt to help me focus on what I need to be doing. Checklists work well for me when it comes to accountability, and the full schedule (the above screenshot is just a snippet) is posted on the wall behind my computer.
However, just like the first draft of a story, this plan is a work in progress.
This year, I’ve decided that I am keeping Covid awareness in the schedule. To that end, it’s a year that I intend to spend working with half-finished stories that may or may not justify anything beyond ebook release. I’ve spend over two years working with a very intense series, The Martiniere Legacy, and I want a break from that type of intensity. Next year, I’ll be diving into the second series in the Goddess’s Honor world, the Goddess’s Vision series, and probably turning those books out in a short period of time (worldbuilding thoughts are happening idly right now, and I’m doing appropriate reading and thinking about where I want to go with the Vision books). I still need to finish the two Martiniere books I have on my schedule–A Different Life and Repairing the Legacy. That leaves one half-formed Martiniere set of stories to be turned out at some point, but they need to rest.
These other projects–most are short standalones, appropriate for a serial format, and I’m experimenting with that on both Substack and Kindle Vella. To some degree, working on them also requires that I maintain a schedule so that I am meeting my deadlines. One thing which has come out of networking with other writers on Substack and Vella has been an exposure to writers who are turning out a lot of work, and talking with them about production and writing discipline.
The other piece is that if I am going to have effective promotion and sales, I have to start scheduling work. I have to plan. I’ve done entirely too much promotion on the fly because my focus has been on writing. Well, that kinda sorta maybe works. I need to be creating the buzz and regularly talking about writing these stories. Doing this requires planning, scheduling, and looking at other parts of my life and planning and scheduling there.
I want to be turning out fabric art pieces as well as writing. I need to be able to do promotion and sales for those items.
I have to reinstate the discipline I somewhat lost during the first two years of Covid, when all I did was write about the Martinieres. Well, that was an impressive body of work–but it’s time to get to these other, someday pieces as well. To that end, I’m also getting back into blogging and daily journaling. At some point, I’ll be posting political thoughts exclusively on my political Substack, perhaps with a crosspost to Medium. I’ve mucked out my office and created a space where I can handwrite and plan–and the planner, plus a notepad for a daily to-do lists.
This isn’t new to me. I’ve done this sort of intense organizational structure before. Only then it was with a Dayrunner. During the teaching years, I used other accountability methods, including to-do lists, the early stages of the current format of publication planning, and a word count tracking sheet in Excel. I’m not going back to word count tracking–at least not yet–but I have the weekly Moleskine planner with a similar format as the Dayrunner I liked, and the to-do list.
We’ll see how long this flurry of organization works.