That time of year – planning!

Image by SaadiaAMYii from Pixabay

Today is 1 December, which means for me it’s the time of year for planning ahead. And I have a lot of planning to do for next year if I want to be more productive yet stop working through the night and at weekends.

I won’t do it all in one go, though. I’ll start by planning a week at a time and see how that goes, rather than a month or a year at a time. I know already that doesn’t work and it’s very time-consuming and gets so boring I don’t want to do all the stuff I’ve stuffed in to do. This time I’m going to be kinder to myself and give myself some breathing space.

So I’m going to book in some planning time each week, and I’m going to ensure there’s plenty of time in between jobs and chores for when the words don’t come or if I feel under the weather or if there’s an emergency that needs dealing with.

I also want to ensure that I don’t run out of time to write and send my monthly newsletter. That’s already built in, but I must adhere to it a lot better or I’ll be losing subscribers.

Downloadable, printable calendars

I’ve tried to go all electronic, using ClickUp, for example, and my Google calendar and tasks, as the two do synchronise with each other. I didn’t get my academic A5 diary this year in July because I’d stopped using last year’s around about March or April.

However, over the past 3 months I *have* downloaded printable calendars of various designs, including a monthly one I can write in and a daily planner.

When I do the dates (think, write, submit) work, I write it all out by hand – or I did before I got lazy, which is why there’s been no writers’ ideas for such a long time. So I’ve been using the same method to plan my weeks for September, October and November. And it worked.

Therefore, it’s clear I need to go back to longhand planning and a hard-copy tangible diary I can carry around with me without worrying about a battery charger or the signal dropping out.

This morning I printed off my daily planner for December, plus a monthly planner I can write deadlines and appointments on. I already have a wall calendar that has big numbers on it and hopefully I’ll get a new one of those over Christmas.

I’m not going to print off the daily planner for next year, though. I’ll keep the monthly planner in the folder and add a weekly planner to it, on which I’ll write all of the topics and anniversaries I want to write or blog about. But I’m getting a lovely new A5 FiloFax for Christmas off the poet that will replace the daily planner.

I had an A5 FiloFax that I used all the time. It was a zipped one and it was black. I used it for years and years, until the zip broke on it. The new one is navy blue and still zipped, and he’s also ordered some day-to-a-page inserts for 2023. I think the inserts are expensive, but it will save me time, paper, printer ink and electricity in the long run.

The income octopus

For now I’m only seriously planning my actual workload for the rest of December. I start a new ghostwriting instalment on Monday that has to be in the following Monday, and then we have 3 weeks’ holiday. I’ll start the second instalment in the new year.

The only other planning I’m doing at this stage is a vague plan for the year.

I’m going to try and ghostwrite only 4 Regency romances a year and give myself at least 3 weeks wiggle room between books, should I be sent any more to write. I have to see if the fan fiction client still wants me to give it a try and I have to decide if I want to do it. But if I do end up doing that, then I’ll aim at 6 of those per year.

If either or both of these don’t pan out for whatever reason, then I’ll look at replacing it or them with new ghostwriting or editing clients.

My other big job this year has been the editing. I’ve had 4 books this year, so perhaps I’ll get 4 books next year too. If I turned them around quicker, then I’m sure I’d get more. But I think 4 books is a good number when I have other books to write as well.

That gives me 3 of my 8 income octopus tentacles. Another one is passive income such as royalties, plr and photocopying payments, which I usually bundle together into just one tentacle.

Tentacle 5 will be the income I’m getting from the books I’ve self-published, and tentacles 6, 7 and 8 will be 2 different weekly short story markets and ad-hoc anthology calls for submission.

It’s these latter short story markets I need to up my game on this year and there’s the potential to sell at least 3 stories a month to them. As I keep my copyright, any I do sell will look good on the credits page when I come to republish them myself.

Writing work

Writing competitions, should I choose to enter any, won’t get a tentacle as they’re less guaranteed. I will look at competitions throughout the year, though, as they might also give me ideas for my own self-publishing schedule.

For NaNoWriMo this year I wrote Book 2 of the project management for writers series. I have 3 more of these to write, and I want to write them quite quickly so that they’re available sooner. People are buying Book 1 and they don’t have the next stage yet to go to. So I need to pull my finger out. When Book 5 is done, I’ll be bundling them all together in a single omnibus.

I have 2 diaries already finished to first draft stage, Diary of a Pussycat and Diary of a Cool Cat. The first one is also almost complete, with all the formatting and editing done and the new weekly exercises already written out. This one shouldn’t take too much work to get finished.

Diary of a Tiger is this year’s diary. Once the other two are cleared and off my desk, I’ll turn to this third one, which is actually Book 4 in the series. I haven’t decided yet if I’ll do another Diary of… next year, but I do have several ideas for other writers’ guides already in the pipeline. I can also bundle all 4 together into an omnibus, which will be a future publishing project.

With Diary of a Tiger finishing this month, I’ll go back to 3-daily reportage (Monday, Wednesday, Friday) on the blog, with Book Review (Tuesday) and The Garden This Week (Thursday) in between, as we’re hoping to get into the garden this weekend. Things like the writers’ ideas will go up on Medium and Ko-Fi instead, but I will link to them in the 3-daily reportage blogs.

Including the project management book I’ve just drafted, then, and the omnibus, that gives me 8 non-fiction books to publish over the course of the year. I’m not going to do a weekly publishing challenge this time. Instead, I’ll do a monthly publishing challenge and add 3 novels and an anthology to the mix:

  • The Beast Within, which is the writealong I’ve been working on alongside the project management book;
  • Catch the Rainbow, which was a previous NaNo project that stalled when there was a big court case in Birmingham about the pub bombings;
  • The Fool, which is actually more likely to be a novella;
  • and the 10 short stories I was going to write for this year’s Camp NaNo, and for which I have permission from NaNoWriMo to use both their logo and their preferred disclaimer.

In case I don’t think one or more of them will be ready, I have a Toni & Bart time travel story or two on standby that I might write for NaNoWriMo or CampNaNo (or both!) in 2023. If I finish the next 2, then that will give me 3 Toni & Bart novella’s plus a short story I can bundle together for another future publishing project.

If I finish The Beast Within, I’ll release another project management bundle with this as the demonstrated writealong, with spoilers removed where necessary. I had a lot of fun with this alongside NaNo that I really want to get it out there. In any case, if I don’t get it done soon, Marcie Craig will be drawing her pension and riding a mobility scooter instead of a Harley Davidson…

So there are a few books there to work on, plus a couple of backups.

Short stories

I want to try and write at least one brand-new short story each week, or at least each month if I run out of time, steam or ideas.

I have a number of pop-up workshops from WMG Publishing (29!), many of which have a short story assignment at the end. I have the 2 weekly short story markets plus anthology calls for submissions already mentioned above, as well as any competitions I have a go at. And I have the 10 stories for Camp NaNo to still write (or maybe 7 or 8, I’ll have to check how many I actually wrote).

I reckon I could easily find enough things there to write a short story a week, especially if I’ve also rebooted my dates work and have some topical ideas to throw into the mix as well. Any stories that don’t have a market to go to, or that are sent back to me, if I think they’re good enough, then I’ll publish them myself. I just won’t have the same pressure to publish one a week that I had this year.

Blog buddies

The last thing I want to try and do this coming year is get around my blog buddies’ blogs and say hello, leave a comment, give them support. A lot of my old friends seem to be coming back to blogging and as some of us never went away, I’d like to be part of the welcoming committee. I already started this today.

Over to you

What are your plans for next year looking like?

2 thoughts on “That time of year – planning!

  1. Wow. That sounds fabulous.

    I’ve found paper calendars work better for me, too. I have my giant desk blotter calendar with project deadlines. I print out the weekly General Blue sheets with time slots for scheduled promotions to drop (such as on the serial, the Topic Workbooks, etc.).

    I’m using the questions on the GDR site ( for the overhaul planning, but I need to drill down and get more specific. I’m hoping to skate through on script coverage through the end of the year, and then rev back up with outreach for other client work. I’m relying too heavily on script coverage.

    The serial(s) and Substack need more attention next year. I’d like to do more short stories, but I want to take a different approach than I have this past year.

    I’m considering doing another set of prompts in February, similar to the #31Prompts for July.

    I’m going to pursue more article work next year, too. I want to get the theatre scripts back out, earning their way, and take on more radio work. I might even submit a screenplay or two. The articles and radio are definite money. The theatre/film scripts are more luck of the draw.

    I’m really glad I stopped doing social media for clients, because who knows how all that will shake out!

    My blog celebrates a 20 year anniversary in spring. I’m thinking of doing some sort of something-something for it. A giveaway or something. And I’ll do a giveaway connected to Legerdemain over the winter.

  2. Wow, already so much going on. Planning is a job and a half in itself, isn’t it? But I do think it saves so much time in the long run.

    I don’t want to plan too much too far in advance, but I do still want a loose plan for the year.

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