How about increasing your writing productivity by 150%? Here’s how to make an editorial calendar for writers who want to write but get distracted by other tasks.
If your writing is hit-or-miss, read A Writer’s Guide To Persistence: How to Create a Lasting and Productive Writing Practice by Jordan Rosenfeld. You’ll learn how to balance writing with the rest of your life – which includes taming your busy schedule, increasing your productivity, and committing to a writing practice. You’ll also get advice for developing authentic work: finding your voice, writing bravely, and breaking the blocks to creative flow. Most importantly, you’ll learn how to push through rejection and doubt, submit strong chapters and articles, nourish yourself to avoid burnout, and keep your mind and body fit.
In 5 Tips for Disorganized Writers, I share different ways to get and stay organized. However, I missed the most important tip: learning how to make an editorial calendar. I’ve experimented with different types of editorial calendars in the past, and have now found the one that works for me. If you already know how to make an editorial calendar for your writing, please share your experience! I’d love to hear from you, as this is still relatively new to me…
How to Make an Editorial Calendar
I’ve been writing – and making a solid living as a blogger – for eight years. And yet I never made an editorial calendar for my blog writing. I sorta thought I was being foolish, and now I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that I was right. It was super duper dumb of me to blindly whack my way through my blog posts every week.
Learn why editorial calendars are so important
“Be regular and orderly in your life, so that you may be violent and original in your work.” – Gustave Flaubert.
To me, this means that structure and schedules give me freedom to create! Before I made my editorial calendar, I spent 70% of my writing time figuring out what to write, how to keyword it, what quotes to use, and what images to upload.
Then, finally, I wrote. Do you think I was creative or violently original after all that? No way.
It’s important to learn how to make an editorial calendar because it takes the drudgery and guesswork out of your writing time. Rather than stifling your creativity, a calendar can free you to be wildly original in your writing.
Look at your work week
On 8 Tips for Maintaining More Than One Blog I share how I kept my five Quips and Tips blogs organized: “I created a blog schedule – and I love it how organized I now am! I have five blogs and I’m the Psychology Feature Writer for Suite101. On Mondays, I blog for Quips & Tips for Achieving Your Goals and See Jane Soar. Tuesdays is Quips & Tips for Couples Coping With Infertility and Quips & Tips for Successful Writers. Wednesdays is Suite101 and Goals. Thursdays is Infertility and Writers. Fridays is Goals and See Jane Soar. Saturdays is The Adventurous Writer. On Sundays, I rest.”
Organizing my days worked well. But now I finally learned how to organize what to write on each day…and that has made all the difference in the world.
Use a paper calendar
I don’t use Evernote or other digital methods of organizing my writing schedule. I tried it, but found it easier to use a good old pen and paper to make my editorial calendar.
- I can keep it in front of me while I’m writing on my laptop
- I don’t get distracted by apps or other stuff on on iPhone or computer
- I feel the physical, visceral satisfaction of crossing off articles after I write them
If you’re still in the process of learning how to make an editorial calendar, try both paper and digital calendars. Experiment!
Don’t buy premade monthly editorial calendars – make your own
I used a simple table in Word to create my editorial calendar. It’s basic and incredibly effective.
On Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays I write for Love and Goals. On Tuesdays I write for The Adventurous Writer (my main website) and send my newsletter. On Thursdays I write for Health, and I plan next week’s editorial calendar.
Know how long it takes you to write stuff
Before I made my editorial calendar, it took me all day to write two blog posts. Now it takes me about three hours. I write in the morning, and I have all afternoon to take care of other administrative and writing duties, such as lounging by the pool.
Be realistic when you’re making an editorial calendar. Know how long it takes to do the tasks you plan, and allow a little bit of extra time. But remember that time expands! If you give yourself all day to write a blog post or a chapter, then you’ll probably take all day. When you’re learning how to make an editorial calendar, you need to know yourself as a writer.
Batch your tasks
I learned about batching tasks from Tim Ferriss’ The 4-Hour Workweek, I think. Batching tasks means doing one type of thing at one time, instead of jumping from one to another (which I’m still prone to do). It’s better to check email or Facebook at scheduled times of the day, for instance, instead of whenever the bell tolls.
For me as a blogger, batching tasks means taking a few hours a week to find appropriate keyword phrases, images, and article ideas. I look through my list of problems that I want to write about, use Google’s Keyword Planner to find popular keyword phrases that readers search for, and create the actual title of the blog post (such as “How to Make an Editorial Calendar for Writers”).
Then I plop the blog post in the next available slot on my editorial calendar. When that day comes, I write fast and furious.
It amazes me how much time it saves to have a calendar. And, I’ve started praying over and blessing the day’s work after my devotion time in the morning. This gets my heart, mind, and soul working on the articles I’ll be writing. I even jot notes and mindmap my articles, which makes the writing go even faster.
Do you use an editorial calendar for your writing or blogging?
If you’re not the most disciplined or productive writer in the world, read How to Be a Productive Writer.
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