Tag Archives: Editorial Calendar

\ Writers’ Holidays and Year’s End

NaNoWriMo SWinner Badge won_earned

The annual writers’ holidays have begun. Thanksgiving and Black Friday, as always, divided November into days of humming along nicely on NaNoWriMo projects and those days of panicked scrambling to finish a planned novel by the end of the month. Turkey Day sneaks up on writers much of the time, due to the writing frenzy.

curated-stock-photos-v2-011-004Once that frenzy ends in success or a learning exercise, eyes and minds look ahead to tree trimming, Christmas carols, egg nog, and gift wrapping. Between those activities are the actual shopping trips, decision-making sessions on when guests are coming to town, where everyone will sleep, and who’s cooking what for the groaning board.

curated-stock-photos-v2-011-009Let’s face it. From Thanksgiving past New Year’s Day come a series of weeks that many writers might want to ignore or run from. Others revel in the idea of having the perfect excuse to turn off the creative brain and the computer in favor of diving into festivities that have nothing to do with writing. Regardless of which camp you’ve joined this year, preparations are being made on the editorial calendars of editors and writers everywhere.

The end of the year marks a point of reviewing accomplishments. Questions are asked. Did I get the projects done that I really wanted to? Did I expand my market reach? Could I have submitted more fiction or articles? The list can get really long.

Analysis

I decided to go through my list here. Otherwise, I probably won’t get to it.

  1. Did I accomplish the fiction projects I wanted to? No. I didn’t get Dreamie’s Box revised and edited. I now must wrangle with it in December. I also didn’t get another chapbook done and published on Kindle or get the cookbook done.
  2. Was I satisfied with what I did accomplish? Yes. I enjoyed my chapbooks that went onto Kindle and I really like the first volume of Wisher’s World.
  3. Are projects going as quickly as I’d anticipated? No, definitely not. I feel like I’m wading in thick mud most of the time, which encourages me to feel like I’m fighting a constant battle.
  4. Did I accomplish all of the article writing and submissions that I’d planned? Yes. I got out all planned articles and continue to contribute three pieces each month to Working Writers Club.
  5. Have I expanded my horizons with either fiction or non-fiction? Yes. I now have several fiction projects to revise and edit in the coming months—novella/novel length, plus short stories for magazine/competition submission. I’ve also gathered a long list of new magazine and journal markets, plus small presses.
  6. Have I developed my 2016 Editorial Calendar properly? No, not yet. I still have to go through the new markets (with their guidelines) and flag those I have material for already and those that require major pitches.
  7. Have I gathered all of the new tools I will need for the next year and begun the learning curve? Yes, I’ve gathered, but I have barely scratched the surface of that learning process.

5b6-052714-akpNow, I can move on to prepping for any holiday activity that needs it and take care of obligations for the month.

I have one assignment done already—I whipped it out during NaNo. I have two planned articles to write before Monday. I have titles and outlines for them. The same goes for all the articles due through April. My calendar will help me fill in the rest for 2016.

Fiction is something else. Again this year, I’ll concentrate on what I already have on the hard drive. That alone will keep me busy for the year. I will also work on more poetry in coming months. I’m planning two revision jobs per month—a long and a short, plus a poetry chapbook every other month. Some will go to Kindle, while others go to publishers. I plan on doing at least one extra article per week as well.

curated-stock-photos-v2-011-019We’ll see how that goes. I’ve already decided to plan relaxation time and a fluid enough calendar to allow for spontaneous relaxation, like daytrips. And there you have it.

That’s my current plan. What’s yours? Have you decided how you’re going to work for the next year? Have you looked back at where you’ve been and how you traveled the road from there to where you are now?

Drop a comment below and share with the rest of us. Until next time, have a fantastic rest of the week. I’ll be back.

Ramping Up for NaNoWriMo

Winner-2014-Web-Banner

Whew. Got Wisher’s World Launched and now it’s time to think NaNoWriMo.

October leaped out of the gate in a whirlwind of editing and formatting the first volume of Wisher’s World, which came out on Cot. 10th. Afterwards, I wrote two articles and  submitted them for columns on Working Writers Club. Wishers World CoverNext, I set up my editorial calendar for the next three months.

Now, I can take a deep breath and begin prepping for NaNoWirMo 2016.

If you’ve never tried NaNo, you might want to challenge yourself to do it this year. Be a rebel if you can’t think of an idea for a novel. What’s a rebel? Well, you’re reading from one of them at the moment. I seldom do a novel. I did one last year for the first time in several years. It’s in revision now.

You see, I’m a rebel. I work NaNo for other purposes than writing a new novel idea. I use the exercise to revise an already-written novel or something else. Trust me. That really does use your time well during the challenge month. I’ve done a book of poetry for the challenge, too.

Book Cover 02This year, though, I’m writing a collection of Flash Fiction stories for the event—one story per day, every day, including Thanksgiving. If you don’t think that’s challenge enough, consider this.

Each day I’ll be plotting, writing, and doing a light revision on a single story. The stories can run from 500 to 1000 words. Each story will be inspired from a single writing prompt. And some of those prompts are normally used for novel ideas.

I won’t be declared a winner at the end of the month. I know that going in. My nimble fingers won’t have churned out 50K words to snag a winner’s badge like I did last year. Instead, I’ll have written a collection of stories that will need little revision or editing for release before the end of the year on Kindle.

Work In Progress Sign Held By Construction WorkerI can pick up my own trophy if, and only if, I put in the back-end work to get the collection ready for a late December release.  That deadline is also a goal. I already have plenty of novels to work on. I don’t need to write another one for a long while.

And there you have it—my personal NaNo challenge. These are the kinds of things that NaNo Rebels do with their time in November and July. It’s not that we’re anti-establishment protesters. It’s that we have other goals and quirks.

I’m fortunate. I have a NaNo group year-round. Our group has expanded and contracted around a core of people for several years now. We write together a couple of times a month, nearly every month of the year. We support each other and even have a critique group of members, which meets regularly. Most of all, we have fun.

004-stock-photo-nRight now, I’m doing prep work to keep me focused on the goals ahead. I’ve chosen my writing prompts for the stories, including a few extra in case one of them doesn’t appeal after all.

I’ve set up my editorial calendar with article deadline dates, topics and titles for my regular column articles for WWC, as well as all the other deadlines that will come between now and the end of the year. Some of those include context deadlines,too.

And this weekend, I’ll put in the time to get my office lined up for the coming frenzy of activity. With more organization, I’ll be better able to make all of my obligations and still have time left over to do those other tasks required for a personal life.

Yep, it’s that time of year when preparation helps keep you sane.

That’s all for now, peeps. I’ll be back again in a few days with something more interesting. I think I may talk about a newsletter idea I’ve been rolling around in my mind. Think about what you might want to see in a regular monthly newsletter and drop your idea in a comment below.

Until then, adios, amigos.

 

How To Develop an Editorial Calendar

Photo/link by A Grande Life http://agrandelife.net/how-to-make-an-editorial-calendar-free-template/

Photo/link by A Grande Life http://agrandelife.net/how-to-make-an-editorial-calendar-free-template/

Every working writer should know how to create an editorial calendar. Several different types of calendars exist. Each helps the writer track her time and efforts throughout a given working period.

Some types of calendars for use are:

  1. Spec calendar for fiction/non-fiction, requiring queries/cover letters (No assignment contract involved)
  2. Social media calendar to track time and effort spent on social media sites and the types of status updates used on each. (Hootesuite is an example for those who need to promote a product, book, blog, or event or who have little time to use for social media attention.)
  3. Assignment calendars for articles/stories to be written and submitted to specific editor for magazines/journals/news media. (Work related to editor assigned/contracted work with specific deadlines)
  4. Writing calendars covering deadlines for rough drafts, revisions, edits, and formatting for screenwriting/self-publishing/traditional publishing (For those who concentrate on novella/novel-length fiction and need to keep their work moving at a specific pace)
  5. Professional blogger/content marketer calendar to organize and deliver specific topics and formats in regular blog posts/newsletters (For bloggers who make at least a partial living from their blogs, who need to manage their posts and their time effectively)

As you can see, each type of calendar has a specific kind of user. There are also other types (i.e. speaker’s calendar)

One of the hardest decisions to make is whether you need a calendar.

Analysis

Analysis

I finally came to that conclusion three years ago when I was overwhelmed by blog posts, spec work, course work, and assigned work. Organizing what needed to be accomplished in a given week helped sanity reign.

If you fall into any of these categories, you might need a calendar.

Health Work Career Friends Signpost Shows Life And Lifestyle Balance

Health Work Career Friends Signpost Shows Life And Lifestyle Balance

  1. You have a busy life with few short breaks in which to do writing.
  2. You have too many projects sitting on heaped back burners waiting for your attention.
  3. You get distracted easily and waste your writing time.

Don’t kid yourself. It takes time to set up a calendar and there are plenty of considerations to take into account. For this article, the assumption is that you’ve never created one and the steps are kept as simple and non-threatening as possible.

Here are 3 tools to help develop your calendar.

  1. Microsoft Excel—this spreadsheet tool is fairly easy to use and takes little time to learn the basics that you need for calendar use.
  2. A simple (often free) large-cell calendar to hang on your wall or desk calendar to fill in all those blank spaces with your writing projects.
  3. The ether zone—for WordPress users, several calendar types with instruction are available as plugins. Also Hootesuite for media work and status updates, with or without promotion.

One key element to consider is the time frame of your calendar.

Time is money concept with clock and coins

Time is money concept with clock and coins

Will it cover a week, a month, a year, or something in-between? This decision determines how to determine your scheduling, but also how much work you place within that time frame. For editors, illustrators, novelists, and others, a year-long calendar is often used. For writers, like me, who work on both short-term and longer projects, a multi-month calendar is preferred.

Pick your preference.

If you have little time to write but many chores and obligations to fill your day, you might only need a small calendar on your refrigerator/desk/nightstand as a reminder.

Work In Progress Sign Held By Construction WorkerIf you’re buried by writing projects and a couple of blogs, and use WordPress, take advantage of their plugins and save time and effort. Those calendars are saved in Cloud and available online anytime and via your mobile device.

On the other hand, if you prefer something tangible, you can tackle Excel and do a printout of your writing schedule. (NOTE: If you choose this route, keep things simple and on a single page of a short, vertical  calendar.)

I use both a material calendar and one on Excel, each with a specific purpose. A weekly overview of writing tasks goes onto Excel. Long-term projects, anything with a deadline, and writing-related seminars, conferences, readings, etc. all find a place on a large, print calendar, where I can look at an upcoming month and see what needs preparation.

Choosing what to put on your calendar is easy.

  1. Anything with a deadline/event date attached—assigned work, contests, submission guideline closures, etc.
  2. Scheduled blog posts with topic
  3. Any guest posts with topic
  4. Milestone projects—novels, novellas, etc. with revisions, edits, beta reader work, etc.
  5. Prospective short story/article/ebook projects
  6. Admin work—website maintenance, course studies, learning new software, marketing research, query development

Avoid burying yourself.

Girl Taking A Nap On Her Notebook Computer As Exhausted

Girl Taking A Nap On Her Notebook Computer As Exhausted

Calendars are marvelous tools and can help simplify your writing life. There can also be a danger attached to them. They have so many luscious empty spaces to fill. You can easily fill in too many of those blank spaces and find yourself slaving under the whip of WIPs that aren’t critical or necessary.

Save yourself pain, anguish, guilt and burnout by scheduling down time. Take a break every hour throughout the day. Get up, move around, talk to someone, or whatever gets you away from the computer. Your brain and body will thank you for it.

Also schedule at least one, but preferably two, days away from writing altogether. Writing is a job, just like any other and has its demands. With jobs comes weekends to get away and do other things. Burnout is a real danger for many people, and it’s not easy to recover from it. Having been there, I can attest to that reality.

With that cautionary note ringing across the land, here’s a recommendation.

Try a monthly calendar until you see if one will benefit you. Take it slow at first. Ease yourself into it, unless you’re accustomed to scheduling your day/week already.

Begin by organizing all of your prospective blog/website posts for one month. Then, add small projects and admin work—say a short story or article, with its rough draft, revision, edit, and submission. If you’re doing course work, schedule your study sessions. Don’t worry about anything else for your calendar.

After that month has passed, evaluate your work during the previous scheduled time.

Ask yourself these questions.

  1. Did you get more done and more effectively?
  2. Did you feel less stressed? Did you find spare time you could have used for writing or other activities?
  3. Did using the calendar help you each day to stay on track and feel prepared to tackle upcoming work?

At this point, you can decide whether using a calendar all the time is for you. You can also tweak those additions or subtractions that could be useful to you. Whatever you decide to do on a regular basis, you will have learned something important about your work life and your non-work life.

Giving yourself one month to experiment with schedules can teach you much about yourself. Take the time and chance to organize your work to produce for you. Most of all, don’t stress over it. Everyone has her own approach to what helps and what doesn’t. Find what works for you.

Related Articles:

 

At Home with New Goals

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Happy Holidays, All

We’ve managed to make it through to Christmas week without losing ourselves.  Or did we?

NaNo took the last of my writing reserves and wiped the floor with me, leaving me to put myself together again during December. And what have I been doing this month, writing wise?

Well, I’ve revised and combined two chapters on Dreamie’s Box and little else. The next few days will see me doing study duties on a writing course. I did beta testing on new software for writer Holly Lisle’s new course. That was a blast that was.

As part of the testing, I got to read pages of stories, some of which I hadn’t seen before. I’ll read Holly’s stuff anytime I can get my hands on it and now I’m going to have to get the full versions to read the rest of each story. Love it!

004-stock-photo-nAfter the holidays, I’ll work on my 2015 Editorial Calendar. My write-in group will go over goals for the next year at our first official meeting in January. It helps with accountability. It also forces me to implement a pacing program for myself. I don’t want to put myself into the same situation that I had this year. That’s my primary goal for the next year.

004-stock-photo-mIf you’re serious about writing, I strongly suggest putting together a writing group, whether as a critiquing unit or as a write-in cluster. Why? Accountability, feedback, writing energy generator; all of these come into play. If you’ve got dedicated people around you, your writing will improve and be extended.

In the meantime, I’ve been trying to work on domestic chores. Like many of you, I have a few gifts still to put together. I make all of my own gifts if I possibly can. I still have a few to go. They may be small, but they’re intricate and tedious by nature.

004-stock-photo-oNow that I’ve got my mind cleared away from all that didn’t get done this autumn, I can concentrate on what I really want to do in the next six/twelve months. I can settle comfortably into a writing routine that includes both of my groups. And above all, I can redefine who I am as a writer. That’s become important to me in this past couple of months.

My philosophy has shifted a bit and I must take a good look at where I want to go and which path serves me best. I have the time now to do that before I lock myself into a calendar of projects for 2015.

I’m hoping to get much more done on both of my websites. I’ve neglected each of them abysmally and I need to correct my course. That’s also high on my list of goals.

008-stock-photo-xComing to these conclusions has caused me difficulty. Why? Because I seriously considered walking away from writing during my time away. I can’t, but I considered it.

Now, I must forge a new relationship with all of you and what I do with this site and my writing in general. Major changes probably won’t appear, but there will be changes on a smaller scale. That’s the nature of moving through time.

Having said that, dedication to including all of you in my weekly struggles will become more pronounced. I hope you won’t mind too much. The transparency will do me good, and hopefully, help others understand that sunny and bright isn’t always the weather of the day. Storms with rain/snow/hail/and high winds come along unexpectedly and must be dealt with.

Along the way will be a lesson or two learned the hard way, which is the only way I know how to learn anything. I’ve got the bruises to prove the hard knocks.

Until I see you all next week, enjoy each day as it comes and forget about what might happen  (or might not happen) sometime in the future. The present is what charts the course to tomorrow, even if tomorrow doesn’t exist. There is only today. That’s where the future begins. It’s 007-stock-photo-b

Have a comforting and blessed holiday. I’ll see you all on the other side. Take care and God bless.

 

 

At Home for July’s Activities

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It’s really summer, folks. We’ve come to the finale for June. Along the way we’ve looked at my poem examples and those of readers. That’s quite a bit in 30 days.

As we ready for July, I can say this. Linda Evans Hofke and I have heavy work ahead of us. Picking a winner of the poetry contest will test us to the limit. But it has been worth it. We’ll get to an announcement as soon as we can after the fourth.

Now, to next month’s activities. What I’ll be doing during the month:

  1. July’s Camp NaNoWriMo—Write, finish, and get into first edit of the first episode of my Wisher’s World series. YA Fantasy
  2. Poem-A-Day Challenge for Creative Bloomings. It’s time for our summer camp again. I was ill last year and didn’t get to go.
  3. Work on a fresh new look for this website and set up the next year’s busy editorial calendar with some new and regular features.
  4. Finish rewrite and edit on SF novella “A Grain of Truth”
  5. Post one article or update here per week.

That’s my coming agenda. How about yours? What are you doing during independence month?

Drop in a comment and share your news and plans. See you all soon. Happy writing.

At Home with the New Year

Blank Mind Map

 

 

 

 

Snuggled beneath whitened sheet,
Within winter’s cold embrace,
Lies tomorrow’s lifetime,
Waiting for birth into today’s
Beginning overture

Isn’t that how it feels this morning? Thanksgiving and Christmas are past. A New Year beckons us to celebrate a new beginning by ignoring the cold reality of winter for the glitter of promised possibilities.

Taking stock

These last two weeks have been ones of re-evaluation for me—not so much about the projects I want or plan to do, but about methods, imperatives, and benefits.

We all go through this process, some more easily than others. Our culture has come to demand it of us, whether we like it or not. It’s goal-setting time. Our futures gleam and sparkle with dreams and schemes.

Writers, like everyone else, set goals. Editorial calendars are mulled over like fine spiced wine. Plans for new expansive projects that have percolated in the back of our brains for weeks or months find purchase on clean pages that echo snow-laden fallow fields. New endeavors wink at us as we pencil them into naked calendar squares.

But here’s a question for you. What criteria do we use to choose those lucky projects that simply can’t wait until another year to work on?

Deciding on Priorities

Any creative person has projects that require completion before another can begin. The type of project doesn’t change that need.

A choice is made, sometimes a quick one, about the importance of the project to the creator. If I’m thoroughly bored or frustrated with something, the likelihood of completion drops exponentially by length of projected time to completion. Usually, though not always, these involve physical crafts like crocheting or needlework.

Unfinished writing projects get priority over all new work; the short story I’ve expanded to a novella, the cookbook that requires formatting and submission, and the second in my “How-To Slay a Writer’s Dragon” series are all the first on my new year’s agenda. Sitting squarely behind those three is my women’s cozy novel.

These projects are definite priorities for the beginning of the New Year. I can hear the next question in your mind. What will you do when these works-in-progress are finished?

Adding Tidbits

I have too many designs floating around in my head to worry about getting bored with writing. I enjoy interviewing other writers, poets, and creative types, and I haven’t done any interviews for a few years. Lining up an interview for each month seems like a good way to liven my writing time.

Likewise, I’ve been neglecting my poetry for a few months and need to return to verse on a regular basis. A short poem or two once a week would be good for me to do and post on my websites.

I don’t have time to read as many books as I’d like, but I’ve chosen to put the pleasure of reading at least one book per month on my agenda and to write a review of that book.

Taking time for self

One of the things that’s been lacking in my daily schedules for months is pleasure. Now, pleasure comes in many forms, depending on who you are. Reading for the fun of it hasn’t been something I’ve done much this past year, but I’m making it a priority on my calendar for the coming one.

And since I’ve chosen that route, I can also do a review of whatever book I’ve read. I’m fairly eclectic in my choices, so don’t be surprised if I wonder from fiction to non-fiction, poetry to children’s literature, or something totally off the wall. I’m a wanderer of words, so all things are fair game for me.

I’ve also decided to dedicate a few hours a day to continued study of the writing craft and self-exploration. If knowledge of self improves the quality of the characters I write, so much the better. Benefits can come on many sides of an exercise.

There you have it—the overview of my coming year’s design. Goals still need to be fleshed out in specifics. I’ll work on those in the next several days. I wanted to design the package before I began filling it with goodies. Short projects, long projects, and fillers that bring enjoyment will have their spots on the calendar before long.

Your possible achievements

Have you decided what you want to achieve in the coming year? Have you chosen specifics or designed the framework that you’ll use to create the life you want for yourself? Please share what you have planned as your possible future achievements. Leave a comment below and tell us all of your dreams, plans, and expectations.

We all have them. Sharing allows others to help in bringing those dreams to fruition.

Have a terrific New Year celebration, everyone. Take special care of yourselves and come back to work refreshed and ready to make things happen. Stay safe. I’ll see you again on the other side of midnight.

 

At Home in the Cold with a Full Timeline

Snow Trees

Blasts of frigid air out of the Yukon have sunk many of us into arctic conditions. Here in Northeast Montana we’ve taken to wearing three to four layers of clothes when we venture outside. Inside, we have our thermostat set on 65° and we still use afghans and lap robes to keep warm.

We’re not alone, though. Much of the country is facing the same conditions and many aren’t prepared for it. We do have that advantage up here in the Rockies. We’re also used to anticipating such needs months in advance.

Weather and writing?

Some may be wondering what this weather report has to do with writing. It’s this. If you experienced an avalanche of work in the past, you’ve learned how to prepare for another such event. If you understand how other chores, life situations, or projects must shift to accommodate the onslaught of new work, you can make room more easily and survive.

Last month I had several projects on my ‘To Finish List’ for NaNo. I got a few completed and out. I succeeded in that. That left a few projects awaiting further work this month, plus obligatory articles already scheduled for the month. In the middle of that list, add a story for a publication invitation and the Christmas holidays. Enter the avalanche, full-blown.

Handling the To-Be-Done

Can I get everything done before the end of the month? That remains to be seen. The blessing is that I’ve been here before and I can anticipate steps to secure the best outcome for me.

  • If an item has no deadline, give it one based on priority
  • Put all projects on a timeline for scheduling, ranked by deadline dates
  • Be sure to add time for domestic appointment(s) and tasks for holidays and double up where possible
  • Allow for minimal social media participation throughout the month
  • Complete each project quickly and efficiently and send it out before moving on
  • If a project can’t/won’t come together in a timely manner, skip it for later and go to the next in line.
  • Don’t skip more than one project this month

Looks daunting, doesn’t it? It is, but if I don’t prepare this way, I’ll lose too much ground in completing what’s on my desk. My January 2014 Editorial Calendar is set, except for last minute entries like guest posts.

My planning acts as a series of snow fences to break the waves of work into doable chunks. In the next two weeks I’ll be able to get several things done and out. One of the remaining larger pieces—my short story-turned-novella will be ready for final edit by the end of the month. That first week of January is slated for clean-up duties on my calendar.

A quick look at reality vs. planning

I take risks and persevere. I have three articles and two short stories which will definitely go out long before Christmas. A third short story will go out Christmas week and my second How-To Slay a Writer’s Dragon book will be ready for Kindle by the last week of the month. It’s almost ready for final edit and formatting now. I’ll have to see if I can pull off the cookbook that same week. I’m not sure about that one, I admit.

You see, I know what needs done, when it needs to be done, and have a good handle on how much I can complete.  That’s three-quarters of the game right there. And make no mistake—this is all a great board game with rules, playing pieces, and motivated players.

The unshakable rule not be forgotten on this kind of schedule is simple. Butt remains in chair at all times unless scheduled otherwise. Fingers keep flying across keyboard until a project is complete. And attitude must be one of confidence and perseverance.

NOTE: Okay, so butt will move for the unexpected calls of nature, but otherwise, it will go to sleep before rising from the chair seat.

Have a good week, everyone, with your own holiday avalanches. Build those snow fences high and strong. You can do it. I know you can.