Why Planners Should be Crucial to Your Writing Process

Want to manage your time better as a writer? Follow this writing advice for tips with using a paper planner!

My internship course, MFA 607, is coming to a close soon and I’ve been on a huge YouTube binge. Erin Condren just released her 2019-2020 line of planners, my personal favorite planner brand. I can’t help but die over the Kaleidoscope pattern every time I see it. I’m taking a glance over of what’s in my cart right now, and good god, when did I get so excited about planners that I have decided I need one for business planning and personal planning? This has eaten into some writing time, but I don’t mind it a bit. I’m buying two planners for the rest of 2019 and all of 2020.

I didn’t use to be a “planner girl”.

I remember when I started writing in middle school and they would try to force us to use a planner to keep up with all of our assignments in school. I hated it. I would write the bare minimum for my teachers to accept it. I would toss it in my locker and refused to look at it for the rest of the week. I remember getting frustrated with the planner because it was too small, and my pen ink ghosted on the paper. Pen ghosting is the worst. It not only messes with my dyslexia and confuses me if it’s bad enough, but it also looks horrible on the page. As someone who likes to handwrite her chapters occasionally, that has always been a problem. I didn’t even bother in high school. I played a little with a planner in college, but it still didn’t serve much of a purpose.

YouTube is to blame for my obsession with finding something that could keep me organized as an independent romance author when I found a video from JaaackJack (I love her make up reviews and her dog, Zoey!) about her back to school giveaway a couple of years ago. I don’t think I could juggle as much as I do–writing, growing my author network on social media, school, or my internship–without my Lifeplanner and Monthly Deluxe Planners. And if I still don’t have you convinced, I’ve come up with a list of reasons why you should use a paper planner:

Before you read this list: You don’t need to buy something from Erin Condren in order to help yourself organize as a writer (although you can go here if you want $10 off one of those pretty new planners–or notebooks–and I’ll get $10 to feed my addiction). Plum Paper Planner is completely customizable (I’m eyeing their notebooks because you can add an extra 100 pages) or Happy Planner (a disc-bound system that is completely customizable).

1. It will help you write faster: I know this is a strange concept. How in the world can a paper planner help you write faster? It helps me to see how fast I’m writing at the end of the week when I have jotted down my word counts for the day. It also helps me keep track of the scenes I’ve written for the day, so I know what to tackle the next.

2. Time management: I could write a freaking book on time management. I have an hourly Lifeplanner I’ve been using since January. Trust me, when you look at your planner and see how much time you have to write, going down the rabbit hole of researching the Jacobite family line on YouTube because you’ve been on a Reign and Outlander binge will seem less worthy of your time than working on your novel, you’ll thank me.

3. Word tracker: Obviously, you can count how much you wrote at the end of the day and which scenes you worked on. I find this important especially because I have been bouncing around while I’m working on my thesis. This is the one novel I have not written in chronological order and it’s been throwing me for a loop. It also helps me feel better to see how much progress I have made on my work every day. I’m checking my Lifeplanner right now, and my biggest writing day was last month on April 11th when I hit 5,000 words.

4. Plan ahead: How many novels do you want to write in a year if you’re planning to go the Indie route? Two? Three? Six? It helps to know what days you won’t be able to write in advance, so you won’t set yourself up for disappointment later. My goal is two this year: My thesis and Cheap Promises. I’m in a graduate program, no way will I manage more than that right now. Being realistic with yourself and your writing progress will stop a nasty block later!

5. Budget Ads: Again, if you’re self-publishing, you’ll want to have space where you can figure out your budget when it comes to releasing your books. A lot of planners have a dashboard or notes page at the beginning of the month that are perfect for this (or if you use the Happy Planner or another planner that has a binder or disc system, you can add an extra page yourself).

6. Author Platform: I’ve been tracking my Twitter follower count since last year, and man, has it grown. I’m so thankful to the great #WritingCommunity who have been supportive since I found them a couple years ago. I find that it’s important to track social media so you can see how large your platform is when you start to think it might not grow at all. Networking with other writers is a great way to not only get support when you do publish your book, but to find the next great read or group of friends that you may not have come across before by isolating yourself from the world (shout out to K.N., M.R., Gloria, Paula, Jayne, Jenn, Dan, Lonormi, Mason, and Anne!).

Have I convinced you to get a planner yet?

I’m notoriously evil amongst my writing tribe for showing them all of the pretty paper and pen things. Let me know if you’re a planner user!