Developing a Writing Plan in 4 Easy Steps

If you develop a writing plan, you’re more likely to stay motivated and disciplined to write.  These steps to developing a writing plan are from author Laura Cross, of NonfictionInk.

Before the tips, a quip:

“Half of knowing what you want is knowing what you must give up to get it.” ~ Sidney Howard

You can be the most organized writer in the world, but if you aren’t prepared to make a few sacrifices for your writing, then you’re less likely to achieve your writing goals. Here, Laura Cross – author of The Complete Guide to Hiring a Literary Agent: Everything You Need to Know to become Successfully Published – describes in detail how to create a writing plan. And it’s up to you, fellow scribes, to follow through…

4 Steps to Developing a Long-Term Writing Plan

Writing down your goals and creating a plan (tasks you can accomplish on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis) will keep you focused, allow you to see results, and provide a solid strategy for achieving your writing goals.

1. Define your writing goal(s). Your goal should be specific, measurable, and have a deadline – such as “I will complete my nonfiction manuscript by the end of October.”

2. Determine what tasks are necessary to achieve your goal(s). Create a list of all the necessary tasks associated with achieving the goal(s). If the goal is to develop a book proposal package to pitch to publishers the tasks involved might be: analyzing similar books on the subject, conducting market research, creating a promotional plan, writing an author bio, building an author platform, designing a chapter outline, writing a sample chapter, investigating nonfiction publishers in your genre, crating a query letter, etc…..

3. Organize the tasks, and develop a strategic plan. Writing goals are easier to manage when they are broken down into small chunks: three-year, one-year, monthly, weekly, and daily. Start with your big goals and break them down to smaller and smaller tasks.

4. Make sure your detailed plan suits your lifestyle. If you maintain a full-time job and have two small children and a dog to care for, it may be difficult to fit three pages of writing in each day. Set yourself up for success by creating a practical plan. If you write one hour a day (after the kids go to bed), five times a week – or five hours one day a week (on Sunday when the kids are at grandma’s house) – that’s five pages of writing each week; within a year you will have completed a 250-page book.

Example of a Writing Plan

Long-term goal: “I will be recognized as the expert in my field by the end of 2012.”

Goals for this year, which will help achieve the long-term goal: “I will self-publish my business book by December 15.”

Monthly tasks necessary to attain the one-year goal:

  • January: I will gather initial research and create a book outline
  • February – March: I will research my topic in depth, interview sources, and obtain photos and permissions.
  • April – June: I will write the content.
  • July: I will have the manuscript professionally edited and proofread. I will set up my publishing company and begin pre-marketing for the book.
  • August: I will make final revisions. I will obtain an ISBN and bar code, register copyright, and apply for LCCN.
  • September: I will hire a designer to layout the interior of the book. I will hire an artist to create the cover for the book. I will list my book for pre-sale on Amazon.
  • October – November: I will hire an indexer to create an index for the book. I will submit the book for printing.
  • December: I will launch the book release.

Weekly tasks necessary to attain the specific monthly goals:

  • Week 1: I will investigate and evaluate comparable competitive titles
  • Week 2: I will collect initial research via the Internet
  • Week 3: I will brainstorm my topic to divide the material into sections
  • Week 4: I will create a detailed outline with sub-topics and separate chapters

Daily tasks necessary to attain the specific weekly goals:

  • Tuesday, June 8: I will write five pages of content.

Studies show that people who write down their goals and develop a strategic plan to achieve them are more likely to succeed. So, make a commitment to yourself and your writing career – develop a plan and put it into action. Before another year flies by, you could be a published author!

If you have any thoughts or questions on developing a writing plan or being an organized writer, please comment below!

Laura Cross is an author, screenwriter, ghostwriter, freelance book editor, and writing coach specializing in nonfiction books and script adaptation.

Before You Go...

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Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen
I'm a writer and blogger in Vancouver, BC. I created the "Quips and Tips" blog series; my degrees are in Education, Psychology, and Social Work. My blogs have been my primary source of income since 2008 - which means I'm living proof that you CAN make money as a writer! Don't give up. Have faith, and trust that with God you can do anything.

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6 Responses

  1. Diar A. says:

    I suppose this is what I have been painfully needing. I’ve been dealing with goals (only a very few), but still get overwhelmed. I am definitely trying this strategic plan. Thanks Laurie and Laura :)
    .-= Diar A.´s last blog post ..Being a Writer, the Artist’s Way =-.

  2. Laura Cross says:

    Hey Lori – glad the article “hit the spot”. I’m the same with my writing process. Without a structured plan I’ll wander off the path. Thank goodness for iCalendar!
    .-= Laura Cross´s last blog post ..Five Questions With… “How To Open and Operate a Financially Successful Personal and Executive Coaching Business” Author John Peragine =-.

  3. Hi Laura (and Laurie),

    I know this will sound cliche, but I really needed to read this article today. I need a lot of structure to stay on task and this advice hits the mark.

    Well done!
    I thank you profusely. Also, thanks for your blog, Laurie. I’ve recently found you and am happy to have crossed paths — and to meet other L-girls.
    .-= Lori (JaneBeNimble)´s last blog post ..Righting Time =-.

  4. Thanks for this info, Laura — it was SO detailed and concise! It’s one thing to say “be specific when you’re setting out to achieve your writing goals”, but a whole ‘nother thing to actually set it out for us. I appreciate that very much.

    Good luck with your literary agent book — I’ve been meaning to blog about it, and will soon. When I do, I’ll send you the link.

    Keep in touch, and don’t hesitate to send me more articles like this if you feel inclined. I’d love to feature you again!

    .-= Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen´s last blog post ..How to Repair a Bad Credit Rating After Paying Credit Card Debt =-.

  5. Laura Cross says:

    Hey Laurie – Thanks for including my article on your blog. Your site is always such a great resource. I look forward to engaging with your readers.
    .-= Laura Cross´s last blog post ..Five Questions With… “How To Open and Operate a Financially Successful Personal and Executive Coaching Business” Author John Peragine =-.

  1. November 19, 2010

    […] groups or send out surveys to convince publishers that your idea has merit and will sell. This will build your writing platform by providing you with tangible […]

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