Planner Changes, Writing Changes

Hello, lieblings. Monday’s post on Monday, because I have it in my planners (plural) and some things are about to be a little different.

Everyday Carry Planner

We will start with my everyday carry planner. This is the one that lives in my purse. I promised myself that I would give myself a solid month to try the mini vertical layout to see how I liked it, and…I have issues.

ironically, I like this spread

Being one month into a new sort of planner means I’ve had a chance to know what works for me and what doesn’t. I was thrown at first by the new vertical format in a mini size. It’s okay, and I think I’m actually getting the hang of it, because this week’s spread, that one I like. What I don’t like is having to completely re-date every single page, every single time. Not saying that this won’t be something I’m into later on, but for right now, I want to keep my energy focused on the whole writing thing because 2020 was not great for it, and things are a lot better now.

Then they pull the pink foil on me.

Here’s where I’m torn: February is a gorgeous pale pink confection, which I adore. This would still require complete re-dating, but the dominant color would be pink, which works really well with me for February for all the Valentine-y, month of love stuff. Especially for a romance writer. Right now, I am looking at getting ready to see two different projects go to the editing phase, and the first draft attention goes to totally new stuff.

Well, not entirely new, as some of it is venturing into the world of linked books, which is still kind of new to me (as Drama King was indeed my first planned connected book) and the most important thing to consider when planning is figuring out how I can best make this work for me. Sometimes that involves trying a lot of different tuff and finding a lot of t hings that may not work the very best. It’s all part of the process.

okay, so this thing
:drums fingers on table:

Sharp-eyed readers may notice I haven’t mentioned my social media planner yet, because that’s one of the things that I am reconsidering. I found the skinny mini planner above on a deep discount (yay, end of January planner prices!) and fell totally in love with the watercolor floral theme, and I like the compact space for writing/decorating. I am probably going to fake plan in one (or more) of the expired weeks and see how that feels. I also may try putting social media back into the regular planner, or possibly some other arrangement. We’ll see.

Now on to the writing. This is the week where I get all of the pens and papers together and sticky notes and index cards and throw ideas out there. The Lion and Thistle has Sunday night Discord chats, and last night’s was themed around Medieval or Pirates?

Since my first medieval is now in the hands of an indie editor, I’m naturally thinking about what do I want to do for any connected stories in this world. I do have an idea of the hero for book two, an old comrade of the hero’s, but the heroine? IDK. Zip. Zero. Nada. Not. A. Clue. I want to meet her, I really do. Guy deserves some good love. Maybe it will all pop into my head when I get the edits back, because the right editor can make absolute magic.

It’s pirates!

Yeah, these guys. I started on a pirate story called Abandon some years back, and figured out when I was elbow-deep, that I was writing the wrong story, because the heroine’s parents kept taking over the story. As a dear writer friend pointed out during a chat, those parents have strong voices, and they really do need to come first. The whole trilogy is pretty clear in my brain, the only nebulous stuff the third book, because that heroine is the daughter of the couple in book two, and that feels okay. I need to let her grow up on her own.

Contrast that with the “ummmm” about the medievals. Part of my brain says shove those pirates way, way down and get through the medievals. Why do I have to “get through” a project? I do fully find a way to fall in love with the medeivals, especially finding my groove after a while away. Maybe this kind of thing is normal. Maybe it’s normal for me.

There is a very big part of me that wants to tackle all of it at once. Do I want to splash around in all of it and see where I naturally gravitate (and yes, I naturally gravitate to the things with deadlines) and let the priorities sort themselves out. We’ll see. There are only so many hours in the day, and things have to fit into all of the rest of life. That’s definitely one of the reasons I love planning as much as I do, and how much I love how it intersects with writing. Let’s see how it goes.

Planner Stack 2021, pt 1

Heigh ho, Plannerinos. The January clearance sales are a holiday all their own for us planner types, and when we are both writers and planners at the same time, well, then, it is the most wonderful time of the year. Almost a second Back To School, and exact6ly what we need for looking at the year to come. This year, one of my favorite blog or vlog topics ha been the planner stack. I love seeing planner stacks. Don’t care whose. I want them all. So, here’s mine:

“the girls”

Okay, it’s not exactly a stack per se, but I like files over piles, so this is what we get, and no, it does not live in the middle of the bed. I am mostly sticking to one color palette, but ignore the teal traveler’s notebook (TN) on the end: it’s getting switched to a pink cover for February. I almost switched it today, but we are burning daylight, and I already wrote and accidentally deleted this post, so moving right along. These are the girls.

Everyday Carry (EDC)

My everyday carry planner for this year. This one lives in my purse. The cover is a Pen + Gear traveler’s notebook (TN) cover, and the planner itself is a gift from a planner friend. It’s actually a 2020 planner, so I am re-dating as I go. Not entirely feeling the blue planner cover, though it is definitely pretty, and I like the sentiment, so I may swap it out for another in the next day or two and see how I like it. The contents are basically the same information that goes in my catchall planner, only portable.

Catchall planner, Happy Planner classic

Catchall planner for the first half of 2021 is the same catchall planner as my last half of 2020, and even uses the same (re-dated) pages that I didn’t use for the first half of last year. The deluxe cover (gold cover from the group picture) I had hoped to get this deluxe cover in the berry shade, but the gold is nice, too, even if I’m not entirely sold on the mint -y interior. Might paint it, might try some decorative paper or fabric. We’ll see. I love the pockets for sticker books and storage for frequently used sticker sheets (like my favorite blogging and writing stickers) and the all important pen loop. Even more than that, having that cover on the planner feels a lot more solid and professional and right. I don’t think Happy Planner makes this format anymore, so I am now on the lookout for substitutes, and would especially love if I could find something in real leather.

morning pages, not pictured

Currently wrangling with my computer to cough up my historical romance planner (large berry cover in group photo) so we will cut to the camera shy morning pages book. Once again, Pen+ Gear TN cover and Happy Notes inside. I love Julia Cameron’s idea of morning pages, and I find my own version works super well to get my brain in gear. Some adjustments, though; I believe she has a different paper size than I use, and I have combined my morning pages with a daily planning page.

Happy Planner Minimalist daily page

My favorite part of this is the top three tasks. If writing isn’t one of them (except on weekends) then something has to be rearranged. Seeing what specific scene, bit of research, chapter to edit, etc, helps a lot. Once I know where I am going, metaphorically, for the day, that primes the pump, and if I can’t think of anything I want to write for those pages, I can word vomit about my plans for the day. By then, I’m in the right mindset, and getting down to business feels like the most natural thing in the world.

the most essential accessory of all

Storm says that is quite enough blogging until we can retake the other planner/notebook pictures, so those will hopefully be here for Wednesday. There is still writing time before the family returns home, and we are burning daylight.

Planning Home Stretch

The week between Christmas and New Year’s is my favorite week of the year, not only beause it’s my beloved tucked-away week, but also because it is the most wonderful time of the year for planner aficionados like myself.

This week is when planner people have only mere days to get their planner systems together, pick or refine themes, acquire the materials, and put the whole thing together so it will be ready to roll in the new year. I wasn’t able to do that in 2020, but this is a whole new ballgame we are looking at, so I am very happy to be back in this particular saddle.

So, what planners do I want for 2021? I’m figuring that out as I go. Until 1AM this morning, I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do about my catchall planner, but then my penchant for organization provided the answer. I’d started my classic Glam Girl Happy Planner in July of 2020, so January through June were as yet untouched. Score. Glam Girl rides again as my cover, and I love that because it’s gorgeous.

they call it classic for a reason
The week in progress. Send sticky notes!

I am still setting up my everyday carry planner, a Happy Planner mini that lives in my purse, but I am pretty darned proud of my first try at a social media planner. I definitely want to keep a better hand on my social media this year, find out what’s fun for me, and concentrate on those thing. This may or may not incorporate a writing tracker, but it is the subject of my very first flipthough video. Link to that when I have it all sorted out; you’ll hear it here first.

pastel vibes for the win

I had a first draft of this post written out in longhand, all ready to transcribe, but over the last couple of days, I wandered my way into getting the whole thing a lot more under control than I had thought I would in so short a time. Like with many other things (like writing) with me, that involves running down the metaphorical dock at top speed, shouting “Ronkonkoma!” (family version of “cowabunga,” etc) and cannoball-ing into the midst, then figuring out how to swim to shore. Then I make a map for next time.

So far, where I have landed is this, each of which will get its own post:

  • Catchall planner
  • Everyday Carry mini planner
  • Mental health tracker/journal
  • Reading tracker
  • Social media planner

My main writing notebook is still in the gooey amorphous blob stage, which is perfectly understandable as I currently have tunnel vision to get the three scenes needed to call it on a rough draft of Drama King. Melva has done her part, and as soon as I am done with these, that means we can move on to the editing stage, which I kind of love. I may be breaking the writing stuff into two sections, historical, which I write on my own, and contemporary collaborations with Melva Michaelian. The division makes sense in my head, so we will see how that goes.

No matter how things shake out plannerwise, know that they will all be conducted under the watchful eye and fuzzy butt of one Storm Bacon Truss O’Malley Hart-Bowling. She has declared herself planner inspector emeritus, with a particular interest in whatever I am currently neeeding to use most.

Sleeping on the job?

Okay, the minutes I have of alone time at the computer are ticking away, and I have a scene to transcribe (when I am done with the first draft of Drama King, I can dive back into the whole Her Last First Kiss draft thingamaboodle. Super excited about that.) Talk amongst yourselves, or to me in the comments. How are your planner plans progressing?

Planners and Plans for 2020

If anybody had asked me, even a few months ago, if I would ever want to use a disc bound system for planning and organization, I would have said a flat out no. They had disks. Which were plastic. A leading brand even had “Happy” right there in the name, and that is a lot of pressure for someone who uses planning to help deal with depression and anxiety as well as writing and the duties of a domestic warrior queen in transit. Fast forward to now, and we have the heavy lifters for the coming year:

That’s classic Happy Planner in the back, with a mini Happy Planner in front of it. Yellow paper is Happy Planner filler paper in an off-brand notebook, and gorgeous galaxy notebook is Happy Notes. The pages are pink, I’ll give it the happy for that. What happened? I got the planners as birthday presents and figured I would give them a shot.

This doesn’t mean that I am abandoning my travelers’ notebooks or ring bound planners or the hordes of hardcover, softcover, and spiral bound notebooks. It’s another tool in my kit, and I very, very much like being able to move the pages around at will, without snapping and unsnapping rings, or leaving paper debris all over whatever surface serves as my desk at the time. Our family is still vagabonding, so having something that I can tote around, dump everything in one place, and then farm out to the proper specific places/notebooks later makes a lot of sense.

Some of the plastic disks are actually pretty, and not all disks are plastic. I can get metal disks if I want (and I probably will, because I know me) and some of the plastic colors are actually pretty. There are a wide variety of covers available commercially, and some creative stuff on Etsy, plus the option to buy a DIY sleeve to fill with my own choice of images. (Yeah, every much going for that one, ASAP.) After a couple of weeks, and a lot of YouTube tutorials, I got the hang of the system, and picked up my first Happy Notes, the notebook version, no planner, just paper, and rescued an off-brand cousin from a clearance rack, which has become a catchall sort of book, with pages I can readily swap out if they belong somewhere else.

Organization helps me to thrive, and pretty organization is even better. I found a few designs of planners/notebooks/papers/accessories that are more on the sophisticated side than in-your-face bright and want-to-punch-their-face cheerful. I like to have a good idea of what I am going to be doing before I am actually doing it, which very much does affect my writing, especially going into a whole new year.

2019 saw the publication of Chasing Prince Charming, another thing that surprised me. I haven’t stopped writing historical romance just because I have a contemporary out there. One of my goals is to have a historical sale and/or release in 2020. At least one, as well as my contemporary collaborations. I also want to leave room in case something else that sounds fun presents itself, because one never knows.

In the past, my writing notebooks followed a very specific pattern:

  1. pick out color scheme
  2. choose binder, always letter size
  3. create four sections: hero, heroine, villain/antagonist, and history/research
  4. never touch it again
  5. feel guilty forever

in the one sense, it kind of worked, because a) I kept doing it, and b) usually worked out a few things while doing so, but on the other, it didn’t, because, say it with me now, I never touched them again, and felt guilty forever. This doesn’t mean that keeping notebooks doesn’t work for me (um, have you met me?) but that I was doing what I thought I was supposed to do, and what probably worked very well for somebody else, but not for me. For 2020, I plan to take a more organic approach, which is to say ease the heck up on myself and let things happen as they happen in regards to setting up my writing notebooks, and shut off the annoying troll in my head that says everything has to be perfect right out of the pen. Because it doesn’t.

What I have right now is a bunch of different colored filler paper, and a plan to swoop in on any clearance 2019 disc bound planners at the end of the year. Each project will get its own…thing. I’m not sure yet how I’m going to make the divisions. Maybe as broad as historical and contemporary at first, or for 2020 and after that. That’s one of the things I want to figure out as I go along; the right way will make itself known if I keep showing up and doing the work.

Lately, I’ve been admiring the heck out of authors like Kathryn LeVeque and Sandra Sookoo, both extremely prolific authors. I haven’t read much of either author, so far, but I can still fangirl over their business savvy, and owning their voices and diving in one hundred percent. Yes. That. The question is, how do I get from where I am, to where that sort of writer is? One day at a time, it would seem, and laying out a map so that I know, generally, where I am going, and approximately how I plan to get there.

Planners are a big hep in that. I am not big on word counts, which is how many successful and prolific authors measure output. I can see why. It’s handy. For me, pages are a better bet, so I am going to try setting a page goal first. Whether or not I translate that to words remains to be seen, but a page goal, and an aesthetically pleasing way to record it seems like a good place to start. The most important part is to get the stuff in my head down on the page, all the way to the end. After that, the possibilities are endless.

I really do need a new signoff image, but this is fun.