WMBTSG Day Ten (Comment to this post to enter today’s drawing)

[This just in! The promo page for this book just went live over at writersdigest.com. Check it out. Ooooh, aaaaah. Nice!]

Welcome to day ten of the annual Writer Mama Back-to-School Giveaway. One lucky winner will walk away with a copy of Writer’s Digest Weekly Planner by the Writer’s Digest Editors.

This title has not yet been released! Be one of the first to own it!

Writing–whether it’s crafting a novel or building a freelance career–can feel like training for a marathon. It takes conditioning, discipline, and focus. The training log is a wildly popular tool that runners have used to help them stay organized and motivated, and this is the inspiration for The Writer’s Digest Weekly Planner. This essential tool helps writers’ chart their entire writing lives for a year, providing space for creative notes, goals, deadlines, submissions, and to-do lists. In addition, it offers writers essential tips for submitting and selling their work from some of Writer’s Digest’s most authoritative titles.

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Today’s question: Planning. Your writing career. Are you good at it? Be fair. What do you do well vs. what you could do better. A little compare and contrast practice never hurt any writer. 🙂

If this is your first post in the giveaway, please read “Da Rules.”

You may post your comments until midnight PST on September 10th.

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50 Responses to “WMBTSG Day Ten (Comment to this post to enter today’s drawing)”


  1. 1 Mary Jo C. September 10, 2008 at 5:22 am

    Hmm, well. I am throughly organized, almost to the point where it is paralyzing.

    I have difficulty getting my analytical mind to quiet down so my free-spirited mind can write.

    I think mapping out my week with measurable goals is key and I do accomplish this task. I aim to send out x number of queries per week, x number of contest submissions per month. However, I need those deadlines to kick my butt into more focused writing time, not just planning and carrying over to the next day, week, month!

  2. 2 Elizabeth September 10, 2008 at 5:32 am

    I *think* I’m good at planning my writing career, but as of late have found myself in the position of reacting and grabbing assignments instead of picking and choosing.

    If I could focus and be more selective, I would certainly feel better about the long-term goals. But I do have difficulty with seeing my way to the higher paying jobs when I need the money, uh, yesterday.

    And I definitely need this planner, as yesterday my calendar, a writing notebook and a book I’m reviewing fell off the top of my car and enjoyed some quality time between the road and rush hour wheels. They are a mess! (But it gave me a good subject for my blog…and I didn’t plan that!)

    Elizabeth

  3. 3 Karrie September 10, 2008 at 6:02 am

    Honestly, I do pretty well organizing my goals. I have set up a six month plan and work backwards from what I want to accomplish. I use the Microsoft Word calendars and but in colorful clip art to inspire me. Then I fill out a weekly planner and post it next to my face on the left of my desk with inspirational pictures on my right. As I complete the weekly goals, I fill in the time that it took me so that I can use this goal sheet for taxes.

    What I’ve learned (and just had an ah-ha about yesterday)is that it helps for me to have someone to know I’m doing this. So now I’m enlisting the help of another author so that we can hold each other accountable for our progress.

    Organizing my submissions and files of stories/articles is more challenging for me. I’ll be watching these posts to see what they say:)

  4. 4 marnini September 10, 2008 at 6:50 am

    I am never good at planning. Usually when I plan to write I lose inspiration. I have found that when I sit down and my computer to do something other than writing I write the most. It is as if my brain plays reverse psychology with itself. Tell it to do something and it can’t or won’t.
    I have been trying to discipline myself more so I can accomplish all the goals I have set. Unfortunately, I will have a few strong days right in a row and then periods of nothing.

  5. 5 rowena September 10, 2008 at 7:14 am

    Planning! I love planning. I think it comes from being a person who likes/needs to write everything down. If I hadn’t started organizing all those pieces of paper, I would be drowning in them by now.

    I think I’m decent at planning, although I still have things to learn. Teaching has helped, as I’ve had to plan lessons and break down big projects into little bites for my students. It helps for grown ups, too.

    Alas, where my planning often breaks down is where planning needs to become action… particularly if that action has anything at all to do with the outside, real world. Sigh.

  6. 6 Laura September 10, 2008 at 7:33 am

    Planning my writing career, I’ve really never thought of it that way. I just think of it as planning writing time, and trying to achieve writing goals. Between The Writer Mama and Time to Write, I’ve finally gotten written writing goals down, with weekly, monthly & yearly goals. Thus far, I haven’t actually achieved even my weekly goals, much less the other. But I have made progress. I am working more often (and using a chart to track that…). What I could do better is to try harder to get to my writing desk (or the computer), and try harder to make it a habit. With my daughter back in school, and all the fall things starting, I’ve been very distracted lately. What I can do, is to have a ‘to go’ bag ready, so that when I do have to run here or there, I can still do some writing in that doctor’s waiting room, or while waiting to pick Catherine up, or during my lunch at work. I need to find the little minutes to work.

    And I need a paradigm shift, instead of thinking of this as ‘planning a writing schedule’ to think of it, as suggested here, as ‘planning my writing career’. That has a greater weight & importance in my mind, and is exciting sounding! Thank you! This is what I love about this blog!

  7. 7 Laural September 10, 2008 at 7:42 am

    I’m a listmaker everywhere else in my life, but I have not been much of a goal-setter with writing. I need to remember that it is appropriate work to do that, rather than wishful thinking that will tempt fate to interrupt if I so much as acknowledge yes, I want this to happen and I’m going to work towards it.

    Okay, I’m going to go set up some goals and timelines. I just won’t mention them very loudly to very many….

  8. 8 Abbey September 10, 2008 at 7:46 am

    I spend a lot of time thinking and planning my career, but when it comes to action, I often lose my inspiration and motivation. I’m the queen of making organizational charts and documents and never using them!

    I have a series of short-term and long-term goals. By continually referring to these, I can stay on track. I need the short-term goals to propel me forward each day and the long-term goals to stretch my writing.

  9. 9 Nicole September 10, 2008 at 7:58 am

    MMM…sometimes I think I need to make a plan, plan to do it, and just…don’t. Ooops. The only plan I am able to stick to is to write at least 1000 words every day (it is just me, myself and I right now, trying to write a novel), and I don’t get up from the chair until I meet that minimum. I also don’t let myself get distracted with anything else like blogging or surfing until that minimum is met. My hope is that I can do some prelim plotting for my novel, in hopes that I can use it like a map. I just feel so…shifty when I’m writing from the seat of my pants.

  10. 10 Melissa September 10, 2008 at 8:22 am

    I am a mess about planning my writing…especially lately. We have moved back to California, unable to sell our home in Indiana so we are living with my parents in a cramped, overcrowded, cluttered home (I know…redunduncy)… I can’t get my thoughts straight in this environment. I really plan on writing but my brain feels so overwhelmed that I find myself doing busy work or zoning out instead of being productive.

  11. 11 Cathy September 10, 2008 at 8:28 am

    I am a major planner. At the beginning of the year, I write yearly goals. Each month, I list goals and make a plan. Every week, I write out what I want to accomplish. Sunday through Thursday night, right before I go to bed, I tear the page off my daily calendar and write a “To Do” list for the next day.

    Whew! That’s a lot of planning. But I get so much more done when I have goals in writing (and about writing). And I sleep better after I’ve written out all the stuff jumbling up my brain. I

  12. 12 Julie P September 10, 2008 at 8:30 am

    No. I’m not. As much as I want to succeed in my writing career, my own writing goals have to take a backseat to my real world. First comes family; second, household; third, work; … somewhere around #8 I finally have time to squeeze in a few minutes a day for writing drills and brainstorming.

    And the days I actually get to #8, I’m left wondering what I failed to do in between.

    I know I have a lot to learn and a lot of reprioritizing to do. I suppose my best writing goals right now would be to plan out my day to ensure I do get adequate writing time that focuses on my personal writing, in addition to my work writing.

    Ahhh… to have a 30 hour day. What a dream.

  13. 13 Christine Silva September 10, 2008 at 8:52 am

    I love planning and organizing. I’m not skilled at keeping up with the plan and keeping organized in an ongoing way. I have a lovely spreadsheet with categories for different tasks and boxes to fill in when I do these things each day. I even have hyperlinks from the sheet to the online site where I post or start research, etc. But the spreadsheet is empty. I have a spreadsheet for tracking queries and article submissions too, and that one I’m good about because I’d hate to forget to follow up on my work! I even have a business plan and short and long term goals. Where I need help is picking the appropriate task for the time frame available and hitting the top priorities. How come I can check my email 10 times a day but not update my blog for a week? Why is it so easy to write in my idea notebook and start a few queries but finalizing the queries or starting the research – the mundane things- I ignore for days, until the deadline looms large? I need a planner or spreadsheet with a slap-across-the-face feature.

  14. 14 Tricia Grissom September 10, 2008 at 9:00 am

    I’m great at making lists, but not so hot at following them 🙂 My brain feels like popcorn sometimes. I get so many ideas and I’m like, oh, shiny and then I get distracted by something else.

    It’s kind of a managed chaos. But it is one of my weak areas – planning. I can get papers graded for school, but when it comes to scheduling my writing time, I’m not as organized.

  15. 15 Cara September 10, 2008 at 9:28 am

    In writing, as in life, I have a mania for organization, but at the same time, I don’t want to plan things out so thoroughly that I can see past every bend in the road. Does that sound contradictory? It’s not really. I am a great believer in the power of serendipity. I don’t have hard and fast goals, just a general direction I want my writing career to take, and I’m always open to new opportunities as they arise.

    I’ve bookmarked about two dozen of my favorite writing websites (Writer Mama among them!) and I scan them daily for inspiration and calls for submissions that look interesting to me. I track calls for submissions, and the status of my actual submissions with Excel spreadsheets. Deadlines have a wonderful way of keeping me focused, but I still free write just for fun and keep these pieces in an “up for grabs” folder. I’m always surprised at how often I can find a home for these writings, or recycle them and use them as the basis for new writings.

  16. 16 Cheryl M September 10, 2008 at 9:37 am

    I like to plan. I am relatively new to writing so my current plan is not very ambitious and has no deadlines. After reading some of the posts here, maybe I should be more specific. Instead of write that article on X, I should make it write that article on X by the end of Sept.

  17. 17 nathalie September 10, 2008 at 9:44 am

    I am a planning rockstar. For other people. When it comes to planning my own work, I seem to try to fit me into the margins of my life. As this is not working for me, we are getting ready for a major shake up at the Hardy Household.

    I have a goal poster somewhere around here …

  18. 18 Sarah September 10, 2008 at 9:54 am

    I am a planner for the rest of my life, but my writing “career” (I have to put it in quotes because it is so new that it only exists inside my head) hasn’t had the privilege of my planning! Again, I’m new at it, and feel a little frozen about what direction to go — even following the book ‘Writer Mama’. I have read some really amazing suggestions and thoughts here and may implement those. Oh — I do use Wendy Burt’s accountability sheet from Writer Mama. But I’m currently putting the same goals down most weeks because I’m getting very little accomplished!

  19. 19 Ginny September 10, 2008 at 10:56 am

    I used to be a planner; I used to be organized. (Every time I say this my husband rolls his eyes, as he met me after I lost my ability to organize anything.) I make lists all the time, then promptly lose them. I’m great at making lists! I have goals, but they remain in the dark recesses of my brain and I am only moderately aware of them as I go about my daily life. I keep saying I’m going to get organized/make a schedule/plan more, but it just never happens. (Perhaps if the kids went to grandma’s for a week….) I do get things done, but I know I could do so much more if I had things a little more together.

  20. 20 elizaj September 10, 2008 at 11:57 am

    I could write ‘ NO ‘ 50 times and call it a comment.

    I am, well, organizationally challenged. Downright crippled in that area actually. Sad really and something I am working on.

    Ready! Fire! Aim! pretty much describes my planning.

    What do I do well? I take the projects from my writing group seriously. I have to teach a session on writing poetry next month and
    I’m feeling confident and organized with that.

    It’s the every day structure and goals and accountability that I struggle with. If I just had someone to tell me what to do!

    Plus I don’t have any long range goals at this point either. Writing career.? Like Sarah, the idea is so new to me.

    Hindrances are: Clutter, Lack of Organization skills, Lack of Sleep. Sometimes it seems the only time I get quiet is when the house is asleep at night.
    It’s hard to give that up and go to bed, so I sometimes stay up way too late, shooting the next day’s energy.

  21. 21 Evelyn M. September 10, 2008 at 11:57 am

    My most productive days are those for which I’ve planned a list of tasks the week and night before. From a list of major goals, each week I list the tasks I want to accomplish to help me reach larger goals, then I map out the tasks for each day. Completing each task gives me a boost as does marking the tasks “done” on the list. Each evening I check the plan and make adjustments as needed. Now I see I must apply this same system to writing if I am to be successful.

  22. 22 Lisa September 10, 2008 at 11:58 am

    I’m pretty well organized and a planner in all the other areas of my life except for my writing career. And it definitely could use some planning help in the areas of long term and short term goals. Right now I just basically make time to write. Because this is a new career for me I’m kind of just wrapping my brain around the whole idea and process right now. But it will help me tremendously to put together a plan and get my goals on paper.

  23. 23 Cat September 10, 2008 at 11:59 am

    I am a huge listmaker in my everyday life; I’m organized, get things done, check things off my lists. In my writing career, however, I’m uncomfortably disorganized. I tend to think that my career just “happened” and I didn’t do any planning to start it up, and now that I really need to–I want to get better work, and be able to choose what I do, rather than taking what comes along–I’m finding it overwhelming. I can’t make myself even make a to-do list about it. I’m not sure what the block is. Maybe I need to take baby steps.

  24. 24 Celestial Goldfish September 10, 2008 at 12:19 pm

    Planning is a vital part of my daily routine. I need to feel like I accomplish something, and it means a lot to have those little check marks alongside my list of tasks. If I plan to do a writing task that day – or am ambushed by one during the day – I add it to the list. For example, today I have “NORMAL notes” on my fridge whiteboard. That means I have to work on my research notes for my upcoming novel, NORMAL. Other days it may say “Research agents,” or “Markets” or “Finish/edit story.” But if it’s written down, I’ll probably get it done.

    I also have goals set for the year – and I can already count several of those goals as successes! I have a story in the brand new book THE ULTIMATE CAT LOVER by HCI Books. I had a story in an online flash fiction magazine. I attended a writer’s conference and sent requested partials to two agents. Excelsior!

  25. 25 anniegirl1138 September 10, 2008 at 12:25 pm

    I organize myself and all goes well until the first bump in the road (read:family) and everything goes out the window.

    What do I do well? I carry a notebook and I am constantly jotting down ideas or writing little bits of story although I think I need to upgrade to a mini-recorder (way easier to grocery shop and talk than to write and shop and people think I am weird anyway, so no one will really notice). I also am good with deadlines and I have beta readers whose advice I will actually take. In addition, I have goals. Actual outlets where I want to be published (sci-fi mags mostly) and I read them even. You would be surprised the number of writers who don’t read the publications they submit their work to.

    I belong to writing groups and attend religiously. I am part of an online critique group so it’s not just warm fuzzys all the time.

    What I don’t do well is stick to one task at a time. I am a multi-tasking nightmare. I blog, work on the novel and have several short stories going all at once. Consequently, progress can be slow.

    And there is the horror that is the office. It’s so bad right now that I am working at the dining room table. My husband promises that the new office will be underway as soon as the outside reno is complete – and winter will force his hand on that. In the meantime I fight a never ending battle with piles of non-writing mixing in with my work.

    I have a three month calendar tacked to the wall that I use for long range planning and a daily planner – both of which need updating this week. There are just not enough hours in my day.

  26. 26 Annette S September 10, 2008 at 12:28 pm

    I really sympathize with what Julie P wrote. Although I’m currently busy in my communications job, once that baby arrives in November, work is taking a back burner for awhile. On my good days I’m actually looking forward to nesting for awhile and not worrying about any writing-related stuff. But on other days I freak out about not having much of a plan.

    Right now I think that the best I can do is take one step at a time, pay attention to what moves me and trust that acting daily from a place of authenticity will eventually take me where I want to go.

  27. 27 christinajclark September 10, 2008 at 12:44 pm

    Hmm.. planning. Well, I know how many dollars I need to make each day to keep our household budget where we want it to be. So, I generally plan to write that many posts (I’m a paid blogger).

    I’d like to branch out and do more writing for other sources but have yet to plan in any time to do the research and write the letters/emails and such.

    So, I guess I’m only half good at planning. I’ll have to plan to work on that soon. 😉

  28. 28 Donn McDine September 10, 2008 at 12:57 pm

    Planning and organizing for me is instrumental in my writing career as well as my life. So that my calendar doesn’t seem too overloaded with children events and personal responsibilities I keep my writing goals separate on a piece of paper hanging by my computer screen. That way I can view it each morning and during the day. I leave a blank line besides each line item, so when I complete it I write the date down…by the end of the week I feel accomplished if several of those blank lines are filled with dates. What I don’t accomplish in one week I move to the top of the list the following week. My only problem is to stop planning and organizing and move forward…but I’m getting better at it.

  29. 29 Jaymie September 10, 2008 at 12:59 pm

    In general, I am a great planner. I develop a schedule/routine/plan and work it and revamp it until it works well for me and for my family. When something significantly alters that plan, I flounder for awhile until things either even back out, or I develop a new plan. Regarding writing, I am good at meeting my deadlines for writing classes and writing assignments. I am less disciplined about blogging regularly and staying on top of my market research and writing things I think others would want to read. I really need a deadline to work at my best.

  30. 30 Jen September 10, 2008 at 1:05 pm

    I do well in the planning portion of my writing career. I know what I want to accomplish and understand the steps I need to take to get there. I plan to write when my one-and-two-year olds are napping or to get up earlier than usual to get my work done then. I plan to take classes to help me accomplish my goals.

    Some of these things I do. I write personal essays and send them off when I see a call for submission. I take classes. I have a table in my walk-in closet with my computer and shelves for my books and writing projects (and a child-proof knob on the door).

    But then, my best-laid plans take a turn. My children won’t sleep at once during the day, so I don’t write. I’m too tired to get up early. I use my free time reading and enjoying the submissions of other people to the Writer Mama contest until it’s too late to submit my own.

    I am good at thinking about and planning my career. Putting those plans into consistent action and acquiring better time-management skills is where I need some serious work!

  31. 31 Amie H September 10, 2008 at 1:25 pm

    Until recently I would tell myself “Someday when I’m a writer I will …” I didn’t realize that for better or worse I already was a writer. I was in denial. An unofficial member of Writers Anonymous. I didn’t think I could describe myself as a writer until I had written the Great American Novel or had a NY Times bestseller. So I started giving myself permission to plan like writing was my career even if no one was paying me. I have begun to set goals and work on baby steps. I’m carving out my space, buying color coded file folders and making more time. And when a stranger inquires, I hold my head up and smile. My name is Amie. And I’m a writer.

  32. 32 karen September 10, 2008 at 1:43 pm

    Nope, I really stink. Or maybe I stink at the following through part. When I average it out, I still stink. I am finding the only way I follow through on my plans is when I put a carrot out there for me to get, a little prize for checking all the boxes if you will. Lame, but I’m finding that pinning down the right motivation is key for me to plan and stick to my plan.

  33. 33 Sarah September 10, 2008 at 2:54 pm

    I have always been a writer at heart, but writing as a career is a new experience for me. As I am just starting out, I am finding planning to be most essential if I expect to make any headway on turning this into a career. So to be fair, I can’t honestly say that I am good at planning because I have just begun, but I certainly hope to become as organized as possible. Also, with two children (one is sixteen months and the other only three weeks) things don’t always go according to plan, which ironically is making me an even better planner because I now have to come up with back-up plans.

  34. 34 Rosemary Lombard September 10, 2008 at 3:00 pm

    Planning? I plan, I list, I lose list; I designate notebooks, I get distracted and set them down. (They’re around here somewhere.) Nevertheless, in a new, less stressful life I have moved up from four hours sleep to six or maybe seven. With four, over time the brain doesn’t function so well, but now things are starting to happen. I write, I plan—to a degree—and something is going right, even though I can’t seem to use my time well. But whee! poem and essay submissions sent, a publisher asking to see my manuscript, an agent in tow—or am I in her tow? and the book grows in erratic spurts–no, not by any plan of what I’ll write next, but holes filled in here and there in the overall chapter outline in my own disorganized, peripatetic way. I think I need that planner book.

  35. 35 Renee September 10, 2008 at 3:19 pm

    I am not good at planning. My time management skills suffer greatly from that and I often find myself scrambling to meet deadlines. Now that I’m working a part-time job in the mornings, I had hoped to get a little more organized. But so far, I’m so exhausted by the time I get home from work and the carpool line that I find myself sitting blankly on the couch trying to figure out where to start. I’m good at interviewing experts and putting together the finished product, but I wish it weren’t such a struggle to get there. I could really use this planner, so that maybe I could work on both my fiction and non-fiction goals a little more swiftly!

  36. 36 Judy September 10, 2008 at 4:49 pm

    Planner? Yes, but there is always room for improvement. But like many who have responded, I get sidetracked – by life. Ideas hit me out of the blue, like with a question from a counselor on how to explain 9-11 to pre-school and elemenary kids. I sat down and wrote. I keep a notebook, pens and a highlighter with me at all times. I really feel like Amie H. I have given myself permission to be a writer. My friends and family refer to me as a writer. – Boy, that happened quickly. Success will come…I would LOVE to have this book. What a great tool.

  37. 37 Kisatrtle September 10, 2008 at 4:55 pm

    If you were looking at a report card for me, organization and planning would probably be pretty low scoring. I’m just not very organized. I try to have goals, but unfortunately my writing goals lately seem to be falling behind a lot of other things.

    Kids, husband, home, work obligations….even working a very flexible, part-time job from home hasn’t seem to kick me into gear.

    I think I have attention deficit disorder…

  38. 38 Tammy September 10, 2008 at 4:58 pm

    I have not been good at planning. My family supports me, but I guess the truth is that I have not supported myself. I’ve let the other daily minutae of a mother’s life get in my way by thinking I have to get everything else done before I allow myself to write. Of course the other stuff is never done.

    It is going to be different this year. I am setting goals and signing up for things that hold me accountable to deadlines (like WPSS with Christina). It makes it much easier for me to plan and schedule when I feel like I have someone waiting for something. Even if it has to come right (or write;) down to the wire, it does get done.

    But, after those scheduled ‘kick in the pants’ events are over, I need to build some writing habits for myself, and plan larger projects that I can work on over time. A planner dedicated to writing would be ideal because it would help me plan those step-by-step tasks toward my goals, and because it is made for writers, I would be declaring to myself and others, that, yes, I am a writer!

  39. 39 Heidi September 10, 2008 at 5:17 pm

    Planning comes naturally to me. I suspect it’s an adaptation to my higher-than-average anxiety level and constant mental gymnastics. Planning keeps my mind focused and offers substance to keep it busy when stimuli wane. (Well, the stimulation never stops here in toddlerville, but I used to have moments — whole days, actually — with little to do. I am best at planning large projects and longer term goals. My five-year goals are quite clear to me. The steps I must make to get from today to 5 years from now are quite clear as well. My weakness lies in scheduling the subtasks on a daily-weekly-monthly basis so I ensure in the long run it all gets accomplished. My brain gets going and pulls me in many directions at once, leaving me to grasp at tasks that feel right at the moment but may not be the highest priority. I wrote a blog post about this just last week entitled “If I Divide My Attention Any Further, Will My Brain Fall Apart?” Apparently one reader thought I was on a path to implosion –she sent an email saying so. I assured her controlled chaos is my usual MO.

  40. 40 Julianne September 10, 2008 at 5:24 pm

    Complacency. That’s my worst enemy. I’ve had moderate success in the regional magazine market and it keeps me busy but I could be doing more. I’d like to break into nationals (wouldn’t everyone?) but, in order to do that, you have to have some sort of plan. That’s where I’m lacking. My plan, as of this moment, is to wallow in this unexpected pregnancy and to happily accept the assignments that are thrown my way.

    My strengths? I had some gumption once upon a time and I imagine if I dig deep and really focus, I could find it again and get to work on the big money assignments. What I need most? A plan!

  41. 41 Sue Fagalde Lick September 10, 2008 at 5:45 pm

    Do I plan? Yes. Do I follow my plan? Rarely. Do I set goals? Yes, but they don’t change much. I’m a great list maker, but I think the problem is that I put too many things on the list. The tasks that don’t get done lap over into the next day and the next and the next. The system that is working best for me these days is using Post-It notes for the most important tasks on my calendar. There they are in Easter-egg colors, and I cannot remove them until I do the thing. For example, today’s purple note says, “Submission of the week.” I haven’t done it yet, but I’m getting there. It’s good to have a plan, but it needs to be a plan that is actually possible.

  42. 42 Margaret September 10, 2008 at 5:51 pm

    Plan-schman. No, really plans are good. They’re very good. But we all know what happens while we’re making those plans. I like plans so much I make them all the time. Lists, too. I’m hella good at making lists – and better at crossing them off than I am at keeping to strict plans. What serves me when the plans fail and the lists keep getting longer though, is my steadfast, bloody-minded *intent*.

    There’s something about just keeping at it. Today I might not make a hint of a dent in my plans. But that’s OK. I have young children and a job. I love when my friends introduce me to others and say, “Margaret’s a writer!” I smile sheepishly and admit that some days, I am. Not every day. But because I’m writing this today, right now, I’m a writer, and that’s how I stick to the PLAN. Tomorrow I’ll write again, work on the outline or send out a story. If I had a daily planner, I’m sure that would help me stick to the Big Plan.

  43. 43 gb September 10, 2008 at 6:21 pm

    Until this year, I’ve been more dreamer than planner when it comes to my career. In fact, until this moment, the idea of calling my writing a “career” hadn’t even entered my mind. So thanks for posing the question! It occurs to me that without that kind of legitimacy, writing is destined to end up dead last on my Mommy To-Do List.

    My goal is to write when my older children are in school and the baby is napping. I’ve only been at it for two weeks, but so far, I’m happy with my slow-but-steady progress.

    I’m still looking to strike that balance between having *enough* housework done and still having time to write, research, etc. As much as I’d like to blame it on the never-ending nature of housework, I think the real problem is me. I need a schedule in place to help me keep the house relatively organized, and yet, still protect my writing time.

  44. 44 Kristin September 10, 2008 at 6:53 pm

    My writing career is a little like the children’s book, “If You Give a Mouse a Cookie.”

    I sit at my computer with good intentions, but I’m a self-professed borderline OCD, so knowing a stack of bills are in the drawer next to my computer is enough to distract me from writing. So I turn to bill paying. I pay a couple bills online, which leads me to check my bank account, checking my account leads to balancing my checkbook. I’m still online, so I check my e-mail…Finally I get to my original writing project and five minutes into it, my daughter’s nap time is over. And so it goes.

    I appreciate all the tips posted, because as far as planning a career…I’m just not there yet.

  45. 45 Aurora September 10, 2008 at 7:27 pm

    As a new writer…good at planning when i might write or where to submit….no. Not so good. With everything involved in day to day activities – family, work (the one that pays the bills), etc. i could plan that i will write at 8 p.m. but with only one computer in the house and 4 of us needing to get on and check e-mail, work on homework assignments (i’m going to school also to get my degree in communications) – that plan always falls through. And by chance i get to the computer to write according to plan – i got nothing. until 11 that night, then the ideas start going around in my head as i try to doze off so i can get up early the next day to start all over again. I’m good at procrastinating which doesn’t help the writing career. Once i do have a plan on what to write about, i am pretty good at researching and gathering info..my goals and plan for the coming year – find a local writers group meeting to attend; take more of Chrisina’s classes; write and submit query’s to markets that would fit my writing

  46. 46 krysk September 10, 2008 at 7:27 pm

    This is year two of my full-time freelancing career, and while I am in no position to support my family financially, thank goodness for my husband, I am feeling much more confident and organized about the entire venture. One thing that has changed is I now take myself seriously, which goes a long way towards planning. I am my own business, if I don’t get stuff out there, nothing happens, hence the need for organization and working around life with two young children.

    I have divided my day up into “chunks” – this year I have included “exercise chunks” because I found that last year too many hours in the writing seat made my backside chunky, so this year I am all about not having my life consumed by freelancing – but working on that entire family-life balance, which is the reason I left teaching, so I could be in charge of myself. But, things like only having my sitter come for a couple hours a week and having that time as my “office hours” has helped. My sitter used to come for two almost full workdays last year, but there is no way that I can write all day – I have a short attention span – so I find it much easier to work when she is hear and then run errands with my son in the p.m. when she is not hear. Plus, full day kindergarten this year has made my life much more organized….

  47. 47 Katrina September 10, 2008 at 10:06 pm

    In January, I outlined a number of goals for the year, but I don’t plan what I’m doing each month, or even each week. As all us mamas know, the unexpected is the rule with kids, and setting weekly or daily goals (in the attainment of long-term goals) that were continually unmet is dispiriting to me. Instead, I simply work steadily, always knowing when I stop work, what the next step I’m going to take is. For short term goals, like articles on deadline, I simply have the fear of failure spurring me on. The longer I do this, the better I get about estimating the time it takes to complete the various steps in a piece and I work backwards from two days before deadline (cushion!), and set intermediate deadlines for the steps. (I was lousy at it in the beginning, which was frustrating.) I use Excel to track inquiries and submissions, and another for income/expenses. They’re not perfect, but I guess I’m pretty happy with my planning skills. I’m never one to snub a suggestion though, so I shall be reading other posts with interest.

  48. 48 Jenni September 10, 2008 at 10:58 pm

    I am grateful for our writing group online (thanks to the WPSS Spring class!) because it has helped me stick to my goals. Having to write down weekly goals is half the battle for me and keeps me from frittering away my writing time.

    At this point, I plan my time in very small chunks. My overall plan lately has been simply to always have something in the works. Write, submit. Write, submit. Since I’m not working on multiple projects it is easy for me to break down what needs to be done with half hour or 45 blocks of time. Research an expert. Request an interview. Rework an introduction. I feel like I’m good at breaking it down although it is, at this point, slow.

    Even though I plan (in my head) well, I tend to get paralyzed whenever I do have a bit of free time. To stay on task and not tackle home projects or return phone calls is a big challenge for me. That may be out of the realm of “planning” but it seems to all be connected.

  49. 49 Erin Maher September 10, 2008 at 11:44 pm

    I have been planning (and executing) my writing career for about … three months. So far. it’s more fun than tough, hard word, because it’s exciting to learn new things. The challenge will likely come when things become a routine, and I have to bear the drudgery. Planning is something that needs to constantly evolve, because our interests, tastes and skills all evolve. I imagine as long as I keep things fresh, shake it up by trying new kinds of writing, my planning should remain invigorating rather than a chore.


  1. 1 WMBTSG Day Ten: And the winner is… « The Writer Mama Riffs Trackback on September 11, 2008 at 3:19 pm
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