Congratulations! You’ve made it to the fourth and final chapter of our long-term planning process! This month we’re going to put the entire view together.
Last month we talked about your annual plan (http://www.24carrotwriting.com/-blog/planning-part-three-your-one-year-roadmap). Planning is great, but we need to get to work! And the best way to break up your annual work is to divide the estimated volume or hours of work by the four quarters in the year—making sure to shift your workload if one quarter is expected to be less productive than another based on personal and day-job demands. This is a guestimate, of course. Do you write long fiction? If so, you can estimate the number of pages a draft might be and set word-count or page goals for each quarter. Or if you’re writing shorter pieces like magazine articles or picture books, you can estimate how many drafts or ideas you might generate in three months.
Once you have the first quarter of work laid out, divide that work into three months, allocating about a third of the work per month. You probably guessed the next step—dividing that first month into four weeks! All of a sudden, you have the first week of work in front of you, and it’s time to get cracking!
I’ve attached examples of my five-year and annual plans.
Once I have my annual goals listed, I took these long-range goals and plugged them into quarterly and weekly charts. Here is my third quarter layout, as well as the guestimate of my fourth quarter, beginning October 1st. While I've provided you pretty charts to use, mine were originally completed on loose-leaf notepaper!
Final Thoughts on Long-Term Planning:
We can’t always predict the pace of creating a manuscript, painting, or picture book dummy from scratch. My current manuscript has taken a full year longer than I’d originally planned. I could beat myself up about being slow, but at the end of the day, I did all the writing hours I said I would. That story just took a little longer to finesse.
The critical thing to remember is that it’s more important to show up than to hit specific targets (they were estimates to begin with!). You can’t call it a missed goal if you’ve shown up for all the hours you anticipated writing.
Happy planning (and accomplishing!) this quarter!
P.S. Remember you can find the other three long-term planning sections in our blog archives: