Whether you’re writing short stories, a blog, a novel, articles, or anything in between, the key to writing regularly is to be organised. It can be difficult to keep track of all the opportunities you want to apply for, the magazines you want to pitch to, and any other writing assignments you have for yourself. Building a clear idea of what you want to write can really make the difference between dreaming about writing and your writing carrying you to your dreams.
This guide will show you how to find opportunities, put them on a calendar, and then write towards your goals. First, of course, it’s important to do some introspection, set your writing goals and build a habit of writing every day. I use a combination of Trello and Google Calendar for this, but you’re welcome to use any tools you’d like.
Set Your Own Writing Goals
Set a timer for 5-10 minutes, and jot down everything you want to write. Whether you want to work through the exercises in a creative writing book, you have assignments or blog posts to work on, short story or flash fiction styles you want to try, novel ideas you want to try out, or anything else you can think of. Have fun with this; the only person who is going to see any of your writing is you!
Take the time to assess how much you can write every day. How much time will you devote to writing? What time of day will you do it? How much do you usually write in that time? If you’re not sure, that’s totally fine—you’ll figure it out as you move along, but don’t be harsh with yourself if you’re a bit slower than you’d hoped.
Regardless of your niche, there are so many writing support tools and competitions and journals and opportunities out there, just waiting for you to apply for them. I had no idea how much stuff was out there until I started looking for it.
Websites like Aerogramme Writers’ Studio, Australian Writers’ Resource, the Australian Writer’s Marketplace, Writer’s Edit and each state writers centre’s email newsletters are great sources of upcoming competitions and opportunities. Subscribe to as many free email newsletters as you can, and make a habit of going through all the opportunities once a week.
Most magazines and journals love getting submissions, and once you know your niche, it’s really easy to find magazines to submit to. Writing for publications is a great way to build your writing career, make connections, and even make a little bit of money on the side.
Use Twitter strategically! Follow (or create a list) all of the state writers centres, magazines and journals, and other major Australian writing organisations, as well as the movers and shakers in your niche. It’s very likely you’ll find a whole abundance of writing opportunities through these feeds.
The Writing Calendar
Once you’ve got a whole selection of writing goals and ideas in one place, and you know how much time you can devote to writing, it’s time to put your calendar together! I like using Trello for this, because I can have one masterlist with all of my ideas, and then another list for each week, and drag and drop the card for each individual writing task to where it fits best. Then, once I’ve got my calendar sorted, I move over to Google Calendar and pop each one.
Be careful to make sure you have variety in your week. It’s too easy to spend every day writing pitches to magazines, or to constantly get distracted by short stories and never work on the bigger projects you’re hoping to conquer. Also, make sure to give yourself a wild card day every once in awhile, where you can choose to write whatever you want to at the time.
If you’re using Trello, it’s also good to have a list at the very left with your other miscellaneous, writing-related to dos. Things like ‘follow up on magazine submission’, or ‘reformat old blog posts’ are really easy to forget about, and having them right there with all of your other plans will help you to make sure that all of those little things get done.