The Organized Writer: Planner(s) for 2010

by Jeff Abbott on December 17, 2009

I really have to look at the world sometimes with two pairs of eyes.

One is long term, the other is short term. Everything I do today should contribute to the long term goals that I have. (Oh, God, I sound like a self-help book. But this is still a true statement.)

I’ve long used a page-per-day planner, most recently the excellent Journal 21 from Exacompta/Exaclair. And even though it has a monthly calendar in the front, the space was a bit too cramped for me to use it for project planning. The page a day gives me lots of room for doodles and notes and thoughts, but it’s not so good for seeing the big picture of where I am on my novels, and what’s coming up fast in my life. (It is disconcerting to turn a page and go, oh yeah, I totally forgot a writerly obligation was due today, or this was due today, and I’m not ready for it.) So for 2010, I’m making a slight adjustment.

Two planners, two pairs of eyes, one vision.

On impulse a few weeks ago I bought a Moleskine 18-month monthly planner. But I think it probably was an impulse that had been lurking in my brain for a while, since I’d already been burned a couple of times by surprises on my daily calendar. It shows each month on a large two-page spread, with two large blank pages between each month. Here is where I can write such landmarks as

  • weekly word count goals, tied to actual words generated
  • research that needs to be done by a certain time
  • speeches, conferences, appearances, guest blogs, book blurbs, essays or articles or other favors I owe someone
  • family commitments
  • anything that I need to see BEFORE IT HAPPENS

I can put project notes on the pages between the months. It’s very handy and just having used this for a couple of months I feel more in control of my time. I can see where I was at the beginning of the month, where I am now, and what I need to do to reach my end-of-moth goal. For someone who works alone, this is crucial. (eg, I have no one breathing down my neck but me.)

That said, I don’t want to give up the page-a-day planner. I like having a place for lots of notes, to dos, or whatever I want to jot down. So i won’t give it up. I’ll continue to use a day-a-page, perhaps the Journal 21, or maybe a smaller and more portable Quo Vadis Notor or a Moleskine Daily Pocket Planner. I haven’t decided. I might be leaning toward one of the smaller ones, just because I’d like to keep my schedule in my pocket some days. And if I don’t need the daily planner, and can rely entirely on the monthly, then I’ll just use the daily as a notebook/journal.

I’ll post later about how this works out. I have a very busy year of writing coming up and I hope keeping my schedule this way will help.

    { 1 comment… read it below or add one }

    Laurie March 2, 2010 at 10:25 am

    Jeff I really like hearing about your planners and how you’re using them. I’d love to hear an update of how this is going for you so far this year.

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