How to Create a Writing, Publishing and Marketing Plan for the Year [Includes Template]

by Ali on January 8, 2014

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Did your writing go as well in 2013 as you hoped?

If not, you’re definitely not alone! My plans didn’t quite work out either.

In fact, “plans” is probably a bit generous. Often, what I have are writing dreams – “finish my novel this year” or “find time to market the previous novel”.

It’s always easy to put off my fiction-writing for another month … and another … and another. And I can’t remember when I last did any marketing of Lycopolis.

Plus, I’m not planning in a vacuum. I want to allow time for my editor to edit my novel. I also want time for reviewers to have – and read! – advance copies.

So this year, I’ve made a spreadsheet, detailing what I’ll be doing each month. Here’s how it looks (click the image to see a bigger version):

novel-plan-2014-full

At the bottom of the spreadsheet, I’ve worked out what I need to write each day to complete a novel draft in three months. That sounds fast – it’s certainly a lot faster than the year or more it normally takes me! – but it actually means writing a fairly-realistic 900 words per day.

If you want to download the spreadsheet and use it for your own planning, or to plug numbers in for your own word count, here it is:

Ali’s 2014 Fiction Writing Plan

Blank Writing Planning Template

I’ve designed it to fit on one sheet of paper when printed in landscape format. (If you’re in the US, you may have to adjust the sizing slightly as I’ve used A4 paper – which is what we have in the UK.)

Tip: Don’t feel that you have to plan out every single detail in advance. I’ve left “marketing” for the last few months of the year blank, as I want to see what works early on.

Establishing a New Writing Time

During my NaNoWriMo attempt last November, I started doing something new: I wrote in the evenings, around 8pm – 9.30pm. While mornings used to be a better writing time for me, I now find it easier to write when I know the rest of my to-do list is complete – and Kitty is asleep!

Paul (my husband) and I have agreed that we’ll aim to watch no more than an hour of TV on “worknights” (Sun – Thurs).

Your schedule may be completely different to mine, but whatever it looks like, try to find:

  • A regular time of day when you can write. (If your schedule chops and changes, can you tie the time to events rather than the clock – e.g. always writing for 30 minutes straight after work, or writing during your lunch hour?)
  • A quiet place to write – I’m using my study upstairs.
  • A “trigger” to get you started on writing – for me, this is the point where Paul and I have eaten dinner and whatever we’re watching on TV has finished.
  • A writing-related treat – mine’s going to be reading a chapter or two of whatever book I have on the go after I’ve done my writing for the day.

Here are the spreadsheet links again:

Ali’s 2014 Fiction Writing Plan

Blank Writing Planning Template

I’d love to hear about your writing plans … drop a comment below to tell me what 2014 has in store for you. :-)

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January 14, 2014 at 4:13 am

{ 20 comments… read them below or add one }

Elizabeth Maria Naranjo January 8, 2014 at 5:03 pm

My plan is to write my second novel and to submit one new essay per month. I hope to fit some short fiction in there somewhere, but I need to focus on book #2. Writing short stories (or trying to) pulls my focus away from the novel, but I can balance the novel and nonfiction essays. (I hope!)

Thanks for the template! Keep us posted on your progress-always an inspiration. :)
Elizabeth Maria Naranjo’s last blog post ..One Simple Resolution

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Ali January 12, 2014 at 2:18 pm

Good luck with the novel and essays, Elizabeth! Like you, I find I can balance fiction and non-fiction but not too fiction projects.

I’ll try to remember to update you all on my progress once in a while. :-)

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Allison January 10, 2014 at 4:14 am

Finish my novel, collect grade, graduate sophmore year of high school.

Start one of two novels:
-a video game world where everything on Earth is represented by levels, acheivements, and teleporting.
ex: level 4 drug addict, achieved 6 highs. skills: avoiding police, etc, etc
ex: level 2 violinist, skills learned: vibrato, spigatto, treble clef comprehension, etc
Researching and developing this world.
OR
-Mincing Air Worlds: a nuclear-bombed future where the air pollution is so thick that the right combination of sounds (vibrations in the air) can control weather, thoughts, and furniture. So telekinesis, telepathy, weather control, etc superpowers put into scientific and futuristic view, along with research for science stuff for future.

Not sure which to start with. D:

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Ali January 12, 2014 at 2:19 pm

Good luck with the current novel and the next, whatever it ends up being. I think either of your outlined ones could be a lot of fun. :-)

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Jeremy Goodell January 10, 2014 at 3:35 pm

With regards to watching TV: I got rid of cable two months ago, mostly to save money. But I’ve found it’s done wonders for allowing my entire family to take control of their own schedules. We now have a Roku box and use Hulu, Netflix, Redbox Instant, and dozens of other channels to watch what we want, when we want. The point is: we are no longer beholden to sit down at a specific time and watch a show. We can watch it whenever we want. Some Saturday nights, my wife and I might do a marathon session and watch 4 hours of a TV series. But mostly, we just watch a lot less TV. For myself, this step has reduced my sports watching from about 10 hours a week to ZERO, since it’s extremely difficult to watch any sports (at least in the States) if you don’t have cable TV. It’s proven to be a very beneficial change in my life; now instead of watching sports, I either read or write. And I don’t miss the sports one bit.

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Ali January 12, 2014 at 2:22 pm

Good tips, Jeremy. :-)

By “TV” I mainly mean “Netflix” (we have a minimal TV package which comes bundled in with our internet) — just didn’t want to get bogged down explaining that in the post! So we pretty much do what you outline. There are a handful of shows we watch live (Doctor Who, Sherlock, Downton Abbey, The Great British Bakeoff) — but we can also watch those on catch-up anyway.

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Dana Sitar January 11, 2014 at 8:30 pm

I love your 4 “requirements” for a writing routine, especially “trigger to write”. When you get specific like that about what it takes to write every day, it becomes a lot simpler to fit it in than when you have this looming thought of “I have to write every day, and I have no idea how I’m going to make that happen…”

Best wishes for your writing goals in 2014!
Dana Sitar’s last blog post ..Entrepreneurship and a Writing Life for the Rest Of Us

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Ali January 12, 2014 at 2:38 pm

Thanks Dana! I’ve found that being specific is key. Otherwise, it’s much too easy for me to think “Mm, I want to write more” without sitting down and thinking about exactly where and how I’ll make time to do it … and inevitably, months go by with very little progress!

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Cyn Rogalski January 12, 2014 at 4:58 pm

I so appreciate these templates! Thank you! I find I have a big problem with structure. These will help me tremendously. I always make excuses for myself, put off what I need to do, thinking, “I’ll do it later/tomorrow.
Here’s to progress!

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Ali January 14, 2014 at 3:22 pm

You’re welcome, Cyn! It’s so easy to make excuses … it really helps to get things down in black and white.

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Ivan Izo January 13, 2014 at 3:03 am

Thanks for the article Ali. I know what you mean about putting off working on your novel. The blog needs a post now. Nobody expects the novel to appear quickly. What’s another day or two? And that becomes a week or two and so on. Love the detailed plan, especially the marketing section. Since you’ve already got your first novel out, you must know you can stick to it. I’m on the second revision of my first novel and never certain I can stick to a plan. I’ve made many plan changes and it’s finally getting to where I feel I’ll know what to do (and not do) on the next one.

Your reading treat would never work for me. Reading is my biggest distraction from writing. Thanks again for the article.
Ivan Izo’s last blog post ..Writer on Fire’s 10 Most Motivational Articles

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Ali January 14, 2014 at 3:24 pm

Exactly, Ivan — a day or two wouldn’t make much difference, but a week or two (and certainly a month or two!) will. It’s a bit like dieting — one cupcake is no biggie, but five or ten will derail your efforts.

I’m not sure that having one novel out means I know I can stick to it! It took me a year to complete the first draft of that novel (and that was with the support network and structure of an MA course). But I have learned to be more self-disciplined over the years, and I’ve got a much better sense of how long it takes me to write and edit.

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Tom Southern January 13, 2014 at 2:01 pm

My plan is to finish my novel and get it published. I’m thinking of self-publishing. I’ve got to the 2nd draft stage which is quite a feat for me. It’s only taken 5 years +/- to get this far. A little each day is my plan.

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Ali January 14, 2014 at 4:25 pm

Good for you, Tom! So many writers never make it to the end of the first draft. And a little each day sounds like a great plan. Good luck with it. :-)

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Joel Key January 14, 2014 at 2:23 pm

Hi Ali, thanks for sharing your tips. My main plan is to get my author website/blog up and running. I do also have a book in pipeline that has been a lifelong dream to write, so hopefully I can get on with that later this year.

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Ali January 14, 2014 at 4:25 pm

Good luck with it, Joel! Blogging has been one of the best things I ever did … hope it works out well for you too. :-)

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Kim January 15, 2014 at 11:05 am

It is a very good idea to post about your plans to your reading public. That way they keep you accountable. I think I will have to rethink 2014 and do likewise. Awesome post!

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Ali January 16, 2014 at 4:58 pm

Thanks Kim! And yep, now I’ve posted the plan, I feel like I *have* to stick to it… :-)

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LycoRogue January 26, 2014 at 9:21 pm

Wow, haven’t read/commented in a while… stupid dead laptop… -_-

Anyway, I LOVE this idea. I’ve tried tons of others before and they never seem to work. I’m still searching for that one method that will really get me in to a routine. Guess this is my next try. I also like your idea of creating a “writing time” based on routine activities versus time – since I’m one of those people with the “all over the place” work schedule. I’ll have to play around and see what works best.

Once upon a time – and the reason I had the Sunday Noon updates – I just couldn’t sleep while my husband was doing his once-a-week overnight shifts (1am – 10am). So the house was quiet and dark, and I wanted to stay in bed with hopes of finally passing out (usually happened at around 6am). So that was my weekly writing time: between 1am and 6am. After two years and having to work at 3:30pm most Sundays I’ve faded out of this spouse-deprived insomnia. So now I’ll have to figure out another key time…

I’ll keep you posted. :D
LycoRogue’s last blog post ..Farewell, Writing. I Knew Thee Half-Decently…

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Ali February 7, 2014 at 4:05 pm

Whoops, missed your comment before! I think establishing a routine is tough for everyone, but I can only imagine what a pain it must be when you work irregular hours. My daytimes vary quite a bit (depending on whether I’m taking care of Kitty or not!) but at least my evenings are pretty predictable!

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