Charlotte Rains Dixon  

Three Steps to a Prolific Writing Year in 2016

book-office-sheet-402-lI don’t know about you, but I love me some good planning sessions, especially around the turn of the year.  Give me a blank journal, some questions to answer, a form to fill out, a worksheet to complete, and I’m a happy camper.  The same is true for new year’s resolutions.  I love them.  All those articles you read this time of year about how they don’t work and you shouldn’t make them because you are doomed to failure? I don’t believe them for a minute.  I create lists and plans and write pages full of ideas for the upcoming year.  And sometimes often they actually come to fruition.

And what I really, really, really, like is when other people are asking the questions or providing me with the workbooks to fill out.  Through the years I’ve fallen for a number of programs offering such resources (see list at the end of this article).  And from all this thinking  and filling out, I’ve gleaned a few things that I thought might be helpful to you, as you ponder your 2016 writing year.

As advertised in the headline, I’ve divided this planning session into three segments.   Some have more questions than others.  What I encourage you to do is answer as many questions as resonate with you.  Ignore the ones that don’t.   Write as much or as little as you like.  It’s your life.  It’s your year.  It’s your writing career.  Use my suggestions simply as a guideline to plot and plan.

Review last year.  In the seeds of what we’ve already accomplished lie our future goals.  Take the time to go back over what you did in 2015 and think about how satisfied you were with the writing you produced, both in quantity and quality.

–What projects did you start?  What projects did you finish? Which remain to be completed?

–What ideas did you have? Were you able to act on them or do they still need to be dealt with?

–In what manner did you write them, i.e., fast or veeeeerrrrryyyy slowly? Does this style of writing satisfy you or would you like to experiment with a different approach?

–What challenges did you have with your writing last year?

–What triumphs?

–How did you feel about your writing? Satisfied or unhappy?

–What was the best thing that happened to you, writing-wise, in 2016? What was the worst thing?

–What writing-related things (i.e., marketing, submitting work, etc.) worked for you? What did you struggle with?

–What do you need to rant about? What do you want to express gratitude for?

2016 Goals and Plans.  What do you want to accomplish this year?

–What do you most want to do this year? Have you started it?  If not, what will it take to begin?

–What will it take to complete this project? Be specific, and write down everything you can think of.

–What other projects would you like to complete? Write them all down. What will it take to begin/complete them?

–What new areas of writing, if any, would you like to try? (Such as start a blog, write articles, etc.)

–What can you challenge yourself to do? (i.e., up your daily word count, take part in a 10K day, submit more regularly).  What career areas do you stumble on?  Those are good places to start.

–Who do you want to submit your work to? If submitting one big project such as a novel or memoir, how many agents and/or editors? If stories or articles, how many of each?

–If applicable, how much money do you want to earn from your writing this year?

–How will you make time for your writing this year?

–What classes do you want to take?

–What books do you want to read?

Let’s get those writing plans activated. Because planning is all well and good, but one can easily get stuck in it and never get to the actual writing.  I know I can.

–What is a realistic daily word count for you to complete?  How will you track this? (Analog notebook, Onenote, Evernote, etc.)

–What is a workable writing routine for you? Will you rise early and get your word count done or stay up late?

–How will you keep yourself organized?

–What support do you need? (Such as beta readers, critique group, editor or coach, etc.)

–Create a schedule for your writing and commit it to your calendar.  (Okay, I’ll admit this doesn’t work for everybody, like me.  But I’m working on it.

–Sign up for any classes noted in previous section.

–Buy or order or reserve at the library any books noted in previous section.

–Now quit planning and go forth and write.

And, if you feel like it, share a couple of your goals in the comments.  I’d love to hear your plans!

Photo by brokenarts.

Resources for planning your new year:

Chris Guillebeau does a couple of posts on his process every year. (He’s the guy who recently completed his quest to visit every country in the world.  And he puts on the World Domination Summit, which is here in Portland.)

Leonie Dawson sells workbooks and calendars.  She’s a total goof and not to everyone’s taste but I love her.  What she’s accomplished is amazing.

Michael Hyatt is awesome.  I’ve been following him forever.  Every year he does a Your Best Year Yet program.  I bought it last year and like it a lot, but it is a bit male and left brained for me.  Take a look, though.

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