My Favorite Planners - Planning My Writing Year

January 5, 2018

There are two questions I get asked fairly often. 

1. Which planner do you use?

2. How do you plan out what you're going to write and when you're going to release it?

I thought I'd tackle the first question and a little of the second here on the blog. That way you can have links to ALL of my favorite things! 

I am delightfully, happily, over-joyously (totally not a word but go with me for a minute) a solidly Indie published author. What does that mean exactly?

It means I am not in any way, shape, or form associated with a publishing house. For me, this works. I love having control over my publication schedule, my covers, my giveaways, and all of the other things associated with bringing my characters and their stories to you. (Read: I am a slight control freak!) While I do occasionally consider going hybrid (having series with publishing houses and having series I Indie publish), I love the way I do things, currently. 

Because I do this all on my own, keeping up with writing schedules, editing schedules, cover design schedules, advertising schedules, and my family's schedules can be a bit hairy. (Read: Total insanity!) 

I used to try to keep all of the things in my head. 

That's probably what's wrong with me to this day. 

Let's all have a moment of silence for brain cells that perished in that process. 


Okay, now, let's get to what I did to save said brain cells and also to keep myself from saying ugly things I never intended to say out of the sheer stress of it all. I feel certain Starbucks baristas everywhere are thankful that I finally made an effort to get my shiz together. 

If they aren't, the should be. 

When I realized just how many of those yellow notepads I was furiously scribbling things on to try to remember them, I understood that I needed to keep all of my things in one place. As it turns out, that didn't quite work out, but I got close enough. I do use more than one main planners/planning systems to keep it all going but my system works for me and that's what matters. 

First and foremost, as I mentioned with the notepads, I am a hardcore list maker. I NEED a list. And once I write it down, I feel like I can accomplish it. Also, crossing things off that list feels SO good! 

With that in mind, I ended up scrapping four (read: it was way more than four) planners that I tried and tossed out because they did not have a weekly list option. 

But then I found the planner that had all the weekly things I needed! Huzzah! 

For my monthly and weekly planning I use the Day Designer Weekly Vertical planner. The one in the link is the one I actually use but THIS one is in stock and is a slightly smaller version of the same thing. 

This is where I keep up with all of my family's things (appointments/assignments), my monthly goals and giveaways, and all of the things I need to accomplish that week. It also has a section in the back where I chart a year-at-a-glance. As for the monthly portion that is where my deadlines, publication, editing, and advertising schedules reside. My Day Designer lives on my desk where I can always see it. 

While my weekly planner is fantastic, I found myself needing a little more focus on my daily activities. Last year, I used a Day Designer Daily/Hourly which worked well. But this year, I switched to the Emily Ley Daily Simplified Planner. In this planner, I track my hourly word counts when I'm writing and my chapter counts when I'm going through either my line editor or copy editor's notes. I also note my daily to-do list (calls and emails to return) and the things I need to accomplish that day. 

Those two planner systems cut down on the chaos tremendously. BUT my editors schedule about a year and a half in advance, which means I have to know what I'm writing and when it will be ready for editing that far in advance. Oy! For broad, yearly planning I use a Blue Sky Erasable Yearly wall calendar where I only note publication dates, travel dates, and all of my deadlines. Any yearly wall calendar would do since I'm only charting big dates but I like the look of this one and the horizontal fits on my walls with my gabled roof ceilings. Want to know a secret? Whenever I do a Facebook Live video or an Instagram Story from my desk I have to strategically position my chair so my wall calendar is never on camera! I can't reveal secrets quite that far in advance. 

With all of those calendars, I should be able to keep up with all the things, right? Not quite. If you read my Random Friday Five blogs, you are already aware that my brain is extremely random. Ideas pop in there at all times. I needed some way to keep up with them all when they strike.

For this, I actually have something called a Traveler's Notebook (TN for short) which is essentially a binder that holds inserts or lots of small notebooks. I have lots of friends who do ALL of their planning in a TN with different inserts. For me, I needed a little more space for my calendar but a TN with everything is such a great option. 

I purchased a very inexpensive TN from Target by the May Design company. It has four bands to hold four inserts. Now, May Design notebooks have been my very favorite for a long time! You can personalize them and they come in tons of different options. In my TN, I have a notebook for every series I'm writing. I also carry a list maker notebook where I keep up with blog ideas, book ideas, character name ideas, newsletter ideas, AND giveaways. I carry my TN with me everywhere. If an idea strikes, I can jot it down before it floats off into the ether with all of those tragically lost brain cells! 

Now, this all works for my brain. But any one of the options I listed might be all you need. Like I said, figuring out what works for you is all that matters! 

And that brings me to the last planner I use and adore. To me, it's really not technically a planner per se. It is a way to develop goals and to make certain you're doing what matters to you. It's the Powersheets Cultivate What Matters intentional goal planner. It walks you through all of the things that matter to you and how you can cultivate those things on a yearly basis. I'm not a natural goal setter. I never was. I honestly didn't really know HOW to set goals. So, I was hesitant when I ordered my first Powersheets last year. But I am sold no going back! The way everything is broken down makes total sense to me and then you revisit every month to see where you are and adjust if you need to. If you'd like to give it a try without making the full commitment, they also sell an undated six-month version HERE.

Have I completely overwhelmed you?

Remember, any one will do! 

Whatever works for you! 

Happy Planning! <3 

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