First Things First

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 contract.

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 month.

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 deadline.

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

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

Until next time,
Irene Roth

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2 thoughts on “First Things First

  1. Pingback: Getting Motivated to Sit Down and Write | The Working Writer's Club

  2. Pingback: Getting Motivated to Work While You Wait | The Working Writer's Club

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