Planning for Writers — Why, What, and Methods



Planning for Writers | Be a Pro Writer

This week I conducted a workshop for my local writers group on planning for writers. Since it went so well, I thought I’d share my top points with you here.

I have always been a planner. In fact, I used to spend the greater part of my shopping hours in November-December looking for the perfect planner to use the following year. I’ve tried them all–from spiral bound, to three-ring, to leather-bound books. But nothing has worked for me like the Midori Traveler’s Notebook and the Hobinichi Weeks.

The Traveler’s Notebook is simply a leather cover with elastic bands that hold removable inserts. My Midori will hold up to four inserts before I have trouble closing it. This year, I use it with my Hobinichi Weeks as one insert and a blank insert that serves as a Brain Dump for another insert.

Of course, I’m attracted to the creative side of planning, too. Not only does planning keep me organized, but I use it as an outlet to feed my right brain. I paint, draw, doodle, and apply stickers and washi tape on my planner pages.

Planning for Writers | Be a Pro Writer


As writers, planning is crucial to our success. Keeping track of story ideas, characters, settings, editors, sources, and all those other things important to our trade is much easier on paper than in our head.

Here is the outline I followed in our workshop:

Why Plan

  • “Failing to plan is like planning to fail.”
  • Planning is what turns our dreams and ideas into reality.
  • When you don’t plan out your day, someone or some thing will take control of it.

Planning more than helps us accomplish things, it helps us:

  • Organize our thoughts and
  • Keep track of: appointments, habits, money, word counts, characters, time, etc.


What to Plan


“I have pigs running amok up there.”—Beatrix Potter in movie Miss Potter

We don’t want our pigs (ideas, thoughts, appointments, etc.) running amok! Have you ever seen the destruction of pigs let loose? We need to pen them up. That’s what our planners are for.

Planning for Writers | Be a Pro Writer

Methods of Planning for Writers

I don’t think the digital versus paper debate will ever end. I use both. I have my paper planner and I use Google Calendar for reminders and the notes feature on my phone to jot things down when my planner isn’t handy. Following are a couple great articles on the debate:

The following chart illustrates the pro’s and con’s of digital and paper planners:

Planning for Writers | Be a Pro Writer


Planning Tips for Writers

  • Have one main planner that stores everything
  • Check it daily
  • Keep it simple
  • Schedule down time
  • Be reasonable with time constraints—no eating elephants
  • Use color coding

Planning Resources for Writers

The following are some of my favorite resources for planning:

One last thing:

Dreams need deadlines to come true!

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