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How to Make an Editorial Calendar: Tips for Writers

Here’s how to use editorial calendars for your freelance assignments and blog posts. Keep your writing organized, creative, and productive!

How do I know editorial calendars work? Because my writing productivity increased by 150% after I made an editorial calendar for my blogs and freelance writing assignments.

In How Do You Motivate Yourself to Write? I describe how important motivation is for writers. Getting and staying motivated to write every day isn’t just an internal drive that can be nurtured. Motivation is supported by discipline. A writer doesn’t just need to be disciplined, she has to have a structure to support her short-term goals and long-term plans. That’s where an editorial calendar comes in handy! It doesn’t just help writers get and stay organized, it actually increases writing productivity and feeds the muse.

I was inspired to share my own editorial calendar – including how I created it and use it daily – by a reader’s question.

“Great information here, but I didn’t see anything about getting and staying organized. I myself take 40% of my time to plan my writing assignments and goals,” says Tina on 19 Editing Tips From a Senior Editor at “I have probably done a bit too much of planning, but at least I know I don’t need to cut back as much as I thought. I always feel that creating goals for yourself (especially when you don’t have an external deadline or a current contract) is crucial. It’s the reason I started keeping writing contests and markets that I wanted to write to on a chronological spreadsheet, I could see the goals I wanted to strive for and could check them off like a shopping list. I heard that an editorial calendar helps writer achieve their goals, too. Do you writers use them, or are the calendars only for editors?”

The blog post she commented on was a summary of editing tips from a paid staff editor at MSN. She didn’t discuss or mention the importance of 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.

How to Make an Editorial Calendar for Writers
An Editorial Calendar for Writers

If you already know how to make an editorial calendar for your writing, please share your experience! I’d love to hear from you.

6 Tips for Making and Using an Editorial Calendar

I’ve been writing – and earning over $50,000 per year as a blogger – for over 10 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.

1. Understand why editorial calendars are so important

Have you as a writer bought into the idea of using an editorial calendar? You won’t create or use one unless you think it might work for you. Be willing to give it a try, at least! Editorial calendars don’t have to be complicated or time-consuming to make or use.

An editorial calendar is simply a spreadsheet or physical calendar that keeps writers organized, disciplined, and motivated. It’s important to learn how to make an editorial calendar because it takes the drudgery and guesswork out of your writing time. The more organized and structured you are, the more creative you’ll be. As Gustave Flaubert said, “Be regular and orderly in your life, so that you may be violent and original in your work.”

Rather than stifling your creativity, a calendar can free you to be wildly original in your writing. 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 was free to write.

2. Look at your work week

On How Do Bloggers Create a Reliable Source of Passive Income? I share how I used to keep 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.

3. Use a print calendar (on paper)

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.

Why? Because:

  • 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!

4. Don’t buy pre-made 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.

5. Track how long it takes you to write chapters, articles, blog posts

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.

6. 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 schedule 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?

Is being organized and disciplined an essential to a successful writing life? Read The Most Important Personality Traits of Successful Writers and Authors.


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4 thoughts on “How to Make an Editorial Calendar: Tips for Writers”

  1. This is such a helpful article! Would it be possible for you to share your editorial calendar? It looks awesome!

  2. Thanks for this post. I am working on a second book, starting my website and blog, and working with a critique partner. I think this will help me feel less overwhelmed.

  3. Thanks for the article. I’m getting back into the swing of writing for my own blog site and I need to schedule time for the 2nd book. I typically write on the fly and one can only go so far. It’s now time to step into a more disciplined way of writing. Thanks for posting this.