6 Planner Tactics to Help You Write More in 2021
Planner hauls are quite popular on my Instagram feed right now. Everyone is showcasing the multiple planners that they are using to keep track of their lives, business, and more.
I love seeing them, but I also have a lot of questions. First and foremost, how can you have so many planners? I mean, I get that I’m a minimalist, but holy crap. Second, as an incredibly scatterbrained individual, how can you keep track of all those planners, let alone what you’re planning within each?
But everyone has their system, and I’m just here to tell you how to use a planner to help you write more in 2021. Planners are subjective and everyone has their opinion on what works, but I’m going to plug the one that I discovered in 2020 that helped me write half a million words in six months. I tested it, it worked, and now I have a new goal of writing 1 million words in 2021.
The Passion Planner (affl) was the first planner I’ve ever used consistently, and by consistently I mean every single day I owned it. I could keep everything in this planner — writing, personal life, and anything else you can think of.
2020 was my writing year and I figured out what worked for my planner. I kept the daily planner to monitor my daily writing schedule and picked up the weekly planner for a different purpose. That made setting up this year’s planner so much easier, so here are the 6 planner tactics I discovered that will help you write more in 2021.
1. Word count tracker
There are so many options for tracking the words you write. In 2020, I used the daily planner to track my word count in the space of infinite possibility. I tracked each individual input in a list so I could keep track of each project and what I contributed. If I wrote 2K words of fiction followed by a 1K article, those were two separate entries. I totaled them at the end of the day and added them to my running word count.
This year, I’m using the blank space differently but discovered I never used the ‘today in one word’ box. So, my daily word count will go in there as a total (I track individual projects in the free space) plus my running count for the year.
2. Setting goals
The Passion Roadmap at the beginning of the planner is great. I detailed my year, what I wanted to accomplish, and spent two hours making it look gorgeous.
And then I forgot about it completely.
This year, I did the same thing with my roadmap, but instead of leaving it as a page I’ll forget about, I adopted my weekly planner to keep track of goals. I broke the roadmap yearly goal into quarterly tasks using the calendar pages. Then, I planned ahead and put weekly goals into my pages so I knew what goal I needed to be working on and which tasks had priority.
3. Content planner
While 2020 boasted my writing year, there were a lot of times I was scrambling for something to write (specifically non-fiction topics) last minute. It was stressful and really made for some sloppy planner entries and rough drafts.
In 2021, while my focus has shifted toward fiction writing, I’m still using my planner to schedule content on social media, non-fiction blogs, podcasts, and my newsletter. Each Sunday (my planning day) I sit down and schedule out content, create social media graphics, and determine when I’ll write non-fiction or newsletter material.
My weekly planner is great for this because I can look at the days coming up and figure out when and where I need to post. Knowing that stuff ahead of time helps me build ideas and word counts while not forgetting some of my obligations (newsletter, Patreon, fiction blog, podcasts). Plus, if I’ve already marked it in my planner I can’t cross it out. Might as well write it.
4. Project tracking
I’ve searched far and wide for a spreadsheet that will do everything I want it to do in terms of project tracking. Many writers choose Google Docs or Excel to track their projects and due dates, but I’m old fashioned. I want my material in one place and on paper, hence my love of Passion Planner.
The first thing I did with my new planner was list out all the projects I wanted to complete — for ease of explanation, I’m going to stick to talking about my fiction books. The planner comes with blank pages at the end, but there is space everywhere to write. Then, I used the calendar to determine realistic publication dates for each book then gave myself a week or so of buffer (keep in mind, I am familiar with my writing speed, editing skills, design and marketing, so my dates are usually accurate).
Working backwards, I figured out when that manuscript would be due for upload, when it needed to be shared with my Patreon users, the last day for edits, the preorder release and cover reveal, and then when I would be officially done writing the draft. That might seem like a lot, but once you see it spread out, it’s not as intimidating.
When that project is given respective dates, I can understand where I need to be in the process. I can monitor my progress toward the project finish line and determine where I need to pick up the pace.
5. Writing inspiration, notes, ideas, and outlines
This is where I’m using my daily space differently. As mentioned above, this space used to house my word counts but typically resulted in a lot of wasted space. This year, I’m using my daily planner for idea tracking and outlining. I take notes on things I read during the day, list new books I want to read, keep track of any plot ideas or article headlines, write prompts, and even outline what I need to work on next in my books or in my writing life.
The weekly also has space for this kind of stuff but it’s a little smaller. Instead, I use that space for last minute ideas, upcoming national days that can be used for social media promotions, or list out quotes that are inspirational or can be used in graphics.
This is also a great space to mark down any accomplishments like getting new followers, selling books, or even celebrating wins like finishing a tough draft.
6. Tracking sales and publishing successes
It’s okay to be excited about your wins. When I see the income from my books, big or small, I get excited. That’s really good motivation to see that what I’m doing is drawing attention. It’s also motivation to myself to say I need to do better or keep working to get where I want to be.
I keep track of which books are moving and which ones are falling flat. That way I can determine where I need to focus my marketing efforts or change my strategy. I can list out new ad copy, try different calls to action or excerpts from my books, and hit the right audience. Those words help get me excited so I can continue a series, write something better, and connect with my readers.
This year, my planner is going to push me to hit 1 million words. After last year’s success, I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to hit a new milestone. These words will count, the words I just wrote for my book will count, and my newsletter will count. Hell, even my podcast transcript counts. All of the words I create while working on my writing business and brand count.