Doing First Things First/By Irene S. Roth

It is very difficult for writers to know how to set up
their writing lives so that first things come first.
This takes a bit of organization at first, and it isn’t
always easy to tell what is first unless we prioritize
our writing goals and projects.

Today, I will be chatting to you a bit about how
to make sure that you do first things first. Without
that kind of planning and organization, you won’t
be a successful writer who produces manuscripts,
sends them out to publishers, and finally gains a

Here are five tips to do first things first.

1. To do first things first, prepare a quarterly
writing plan for your three main writing goals.
Every writer should prepare a quarterly writing
plan. This plan should contain your three main
writing goals for three months of the year and how
you intend to achieve each of them. Have no more
than three goals. Be absolutely scrupulous and
selective about your writing goals. You could
always add one additional writing goal if you
complete the goals that you set out to accomplish.

However, committing to more than 3 main goals at
a time is a recipe for disaster. You won’t even know
what should be done first if you frequently do this.

2. From your quarterly list of goals, you should
schedule your three monthly goals. Once you write
these down, you could actually plan them on your
monthly planner, and when you plan to complete
each writing goal. Have no more than three main
writing goals for each week. Each line should
contain one of your top three writing goals for the

3. From the monthly list of writing goals, you
can prepare a weekly marketing and writing plan.
Every weekend, sit down and plan your next
week’s writing activities. This plan should echo
your monthly marketing and writing plan. Don’t
add anything else except what you decided will
further your three main goals.

4. When you are ready to write, do your most
important writing assignments and projects first.
Prioritizing takes some effort and discipline.
However, with practise, you will gain more
momentum and will know what to work on first.
Prioritizing can take the guessing game out of
what to schedule on your weekly schedule. For
instance, I write down my writing goals in different
colours ink and then stick to what I prioritized, as
much as possible.

So, here is what I do. I use three different
colours of ink to prioritize my writing projects.

1. I use red ink for high priority items. This
colour ink tells me that a particular project has to
be completed in less than a month for publisher
because of a quickly approaching contractual

2. I use black ink for upcoming writing
deadlines. This colour ink tells me that a particular
project has to be completed between 1 to 3 months
from now for publisher’s approaching contractual

3. I use blue ink for ongoing writing projects
that have no deadline as such, or that have a
contractual deadline of six months to a year from
now. Blue ink usually means that I have time to
complete this writing project.

So, obviously, I complete all writing projects that
are written in red first, black next, and blue last.

5. Stick to your plan once you create it. Don’t let
other writing projects slip in the way. Once you
write out your weekly plan, don’t add or delete
anything. Just simply sit down when the time
comes and write what you set out to write in the
order that it appears on your plan. This will allow
you not to waste time and to complete your writing
tasks as you originally planned out.

If you slip one day, which happens to all of us
from time to time, strive to get back on track the
next day. It is okay to make a mistake one day or
to feel unproductive. Just make sure that it doesn’t
become a habit.

“If you do the things you need to do
When you need to do them,
Someday you can do the things you want to do
When you want to do them.”
Author Unknown


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