Are you a plan ahead person, or a fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants kind of writer?
I’d say I’m 50/50. A mix of both.
I may not be the best at taking practical steps to work ahead, but for the most part, I like to know what’s on the horizon.
Some people thrive on the pressure of an imminent deadline. Others check the task off their list as soon as it’s written down.
I tend to chip away, slow and steady, with a healthy buffer of time so I don’t have to suffer from high blood pressure at the sound of the clock ticking in my ear when a deadline approaches. Usually.
If you are the plan ahead, work ahead type, what are your secrets? What tools have helped you most?
Do you prefer digital scheduling apps, or good old fashioned paper planners?
Again, I straddle the fence with a mix of both. I like digital and paper, depending on the purpose.
Right now, I’m totally in love with these new 18-month agenda planners from DaySpring.
I received a complimentary planner from DaySpring in exchange for an honest review, and it’s gorgeous. It’s clean, spacious, and inspiring. Just looking at it motivates me to map out the direction I want to take with my writing and blogging in the weeks and months ahead. One of my favorite aspects, beyond the pretty colors and beautiful design, is the monthly spreads.
In my opinion, these would be the perfect gift for high school or college graduates, as well as a birthday gift for moms, writers, or business women.
I, for one, plan to use mine as motivation to get more organized and prepared, and to look ahead to upcoming opportunities that may bless and benefit my family and work life.
If you like digital options as well, I also use the free WordPress plugin called Editorial Calendar. If you use a WordPress self-hosted website, it’s easy to install and you can use it to drag and drop your drafts to plan and schedule upcoming blog posts.
The Work Ahead Advantage
In a recent podcast, Ann Kroeker, Writing Coach, shared her thoughts about why she’s committing to the work ahead advantage. Click here to listen or read the show notes. In the podcast, she confesses that she let a week pass without publishing a single thing. She had committed to volunteer at a four-day event, and the week passed without any online engagement. In previous seasons, she had foreseen a change in routine and worked hard to build up a reserve of content to cover her calendar during a busy traveling month.
After experiencing both sides of the coin, Ann shares this encouragement: “If you’re in a mega-productive season, write. Write a lot. Write more than you need. Write until you have a month’s worth of material or more. Make hay while the sun shines and all that.”
Why? Because you never know when you’ll hit a lull, or when an unexpected commitment may arise, or a sudden illness may hit.
Here’s what Ann Kroeker says:
“If you’re a blogger or regular guest columnist for another publication, I urge you to do what I failed to do: write several articles or blog posts and store them up—better yet, prep and schedule them—so you’ll have content for the weeks you head off on vacation, catch the flu, or volunteer to serve at a four-day tournament.
If you don’t, you’ll end up like me and have no choice but to recycle something from the archives or simply take the week off. Now, taking a week off is certainly an option. But your readers like hearing from you. They look forward to your updates. They appreciate your solutions to their problems. They’re entertained by your stories. They show up looking for whatever it is you write and when you and your words aren’t there for a week or more, they wonder what’s going on. They hope nothing’s wrong.”
Of course, this isn’t meant to be a guilt trip, but rather a gentle nudge in the right direction so you don’t stress unnecessarily or land in a heap of regret later on.
So what about you? What resources are you currently using to get more organized and plan ahead? What habits do you need to implement to build up some reserves?
I’m so glad the work-ahead podcast was helpful to you (and your readers). I don’t have as much content done as I’d like, but I’m doing my best to stay at least one step ahead. 🙂
I have started to do a couple posts here and there ahead of time and schedule not only their posting but also the sharing of them on my facebook page… but I need to get more into practice of doing that so I can post no less than 3 posts a week aside from my FMF post for the week… I am deff gonna check out the editorial calendar to see if it is something that may help some so ty for sharing that!
Great post, Kate (and Ann), I am an uber-planner, when I am allowed the time to do so! 🙂 As for my blog posts, God often gives me things during my quiet times. I take time right then to write what He’s put on my heart. This has been one way I have built up a reserve of posts for Tuesdays. I like to have between 5-10 in reserve when I can.
That said, with the busy season of life I’m in, I need to be more intentional about planning my writing. I like the idea of a planner to write out my . . . plans for writing and for blogging. I need to look into getting one (maybe A DaySpring one… 🙂 ).
I also like using Hootsuite to schedule posts for various social media. Again, I’m out of the habit, and I want to get back into it.
I’m looking forward to listening to Ann’s podcast!
Love this post. So helpful . I subscribed to the podcast. Thank you for that. I do exactly as she does. I save articles I love to use later in posts, etc. I use my bullet journal a whole lot.
I make skeleton posts with ideas and bullet points. I go back and fill in the meat when it’s time to get a post going. For example, right now I have 5 drafts of ideas. One post is scheduled for the end of the month for writing prompts for July journaling. I don’t have to worry about that one.
I’m going to do the same for July for when I attend FMF Retreat. 🙂
Really looking forward to keeping on with the podcast. Thank you!
Love this post. Thanks for pointing out some valuable tools to plan ahead. I’m definitely trying the plugin. So many people pointed out in the FMF retreat the value of hand writing the ideas. I’m looking forward to giving that a try as well.