The Importance of Planning by Lauralynn Elliott

I wasn’t sure whether or not to write about this since you all probably don’t have Spark Planners. This is a goal oriented planner that I bought from a Kickstarter project. But then I thought that maybe if you did have a planner, you could make it work the same way. Or you could even make your own. Or simply write this down in a notebook.


Anyway, here’s how it works and how it can help you.


First, there’s a 2016 theme. There’s a page where you write your theme and your top goals for 2016. For instance, my theme is an acronym. FOCUS. It stands for Fitness, Organization, Consistency, Using Time Wisely, and Spirituality. How can this help us as writers? Looking at the whole year might seem a little overwhelming at first, but you still can break that all up in smaller goals and challenges. (There’s a place for the year’s goals.) But if you have an overall theme, it can help you stay “focused”. Which is why I picked that as my theme. It could be anything, though, something you want to work on this year. You can look at this every day and remind yourself what 2016 is going to be about.


Then there’s a place for your 2016 Achievements. If you’re going to set goals, you most definitely need to write down your achievements. There’s nothing that feels better than to write down something you’ve accomplished. That usually makes you feel even more motivated. So write down an achievement when you finish or publish a book. Anything you accomplish!


Next, there’s a place for the month’s goals with little check boxes. Don’t you love to check off boxes? There’s that feeling of accomplishment again! All those little (or big) achievements can make you feel like going forward.


Here’s something I REALLY like, and you can do this with just pen and paper. You don’t have to have a planner. There’s a 31 (or 30, or 29) day challenge for each month. The first box in January says “For the next 31 days, I want to…” The second box says “I want to make this happen because…” The third box says “My plan of action is…” There’s a place to sign your name and there’s a check box for each day of the month. So if January’s goal is to write 300 words per day every day of the month, you check off the box for each day you do it. This is so helpful in staying on track.


Then there are weekly goals. It’s easier when you break things down into smaller goals. And more check boxes! You can make your own goals and check boxes without using a planner. I know people who do this all the time.


There are pages with inspirational quotes where you can just doodle or write down anything you want. You can just keep a doodling notebook! I was recently in a seminar for work where the speaker said we should draw our goals and dreams along with words. She said when you draw pictures, your right brain works and the words trigger your left brain. That way, both sides of your brain work together. It made a lot of sense.


Of course there are weekly and monthly calendar pages to write down things that have to be done at a certain time.


This has really made a difference for me. I don’t do everything I’m supposed to every single day, but I’m getting there slowly. I feel like planning for the year, the month, and the week really helps keep me focused on the things I need to accomplish. If I miss something on the day I planned it, I allow myself to bring that over to another day. No beating myself up for not being perfect!


So let’s all try to do some planning for 2016. Set goals for finishing a book, finishing the edits, publishing, marketing, anything you want to do. Set goals for how many books you want to publish this year. Set word count goals. And plan out how you’re going to accomplish all this. When you see things written down in black and white (or better yet, in colored ink!), I think it makes us more aware.


So what should our first goal be? To plan!


Lauralynn Elliott

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