Discover more from Write More, Be Less Careful
I love it when a plan comes together (+ a 🎉planning party🎉 invite--this afternoon, 3-4pm eastern!)
mapping out your hopes and dreams for fall writing; or, how to get a lot done without burning yourself out
Welcome to Write More! This is the monthly intentions email, which goes out the last Sunday before a new month starts. Last month, we talked about intensity and rest and finding ease in your writing practice. This month, we’re talking about making plans for your writing life, especially as seasons shift and the rhythms of your days and weeks change.
This is a little bit of a long one (but full of good ideas and resources!) so if may cut off in your inbox. Just click the headline to open it in a browser if that happens.
If you’d like to join us, subscribe here.
I love a system. I love a whiteboard calendar, new school supplies, the buzz of a brand new semester. I’ve spent the early part of so many falls plotting out the shiny new system that will finally help me get it all together: this notebook, this color-coded schedule, this list of tasks and goals.
But here’s what I’ve come to realize: a system is not the same thing as a plan. A system is the stuff. It provides the satisfaction of buying or assembling new supplies and tools and gadgets. A system—whether it’s a bullet journal or time blocking or whatever other hack or product that’s showing up in your instagram feed now—can provide shape and structure. It’s like having a really beautiful, full-color map . . . without a destination. Even the best system won’t tell you where to go or what to work on. For that, you need a plan.
When I say plan, I just mean: what you’re working on, why that matters to you, and how and when you’re going to get it done. You can still use a fancy planner with stickers and color-coding, or you can use the back of a grocery list. What matters is working with clarity and purpose and having plans for how you’ll track your progress along the way.
I’m a little worked up about planning at the moment because I’m returning to teaching after a year’s sabbatical, and while I’m genuinely looking forward to getting back in the classroom with my first year students, I’m also a little anxious about managing that workload while finishing my next book, The Good Mother Myth. I’m confident I can get it done, but it’s going to require some thoughtful decision-making about how I’m spending my time, including what I’m giving up on or letting go. I need a really good plan.
To do that, I’ve enlisted the help of the best planner I know, novelist Erin Flanagan, and we’re co-hosting a planning party this afternoon on zoom from 3-4 pm eastern. I love for you to join us. You can register here to get the link. The full info about the party is in this post.
I’ll share a couple questions below to help you prep for our planning party, and if you’re interested but can’t make that time, I’ll share a video afterward.
(And for anyone who’s thinking, but isn’t all this planning kind of the opposite of creativity?—I’d say that, for me, it’s really the opposite. Having a plan for the big picture and the day-to-day work helps me be more creative. It means that, when I sit down to work, I’m not waffling around figuring out where to get started or which project to tackle first. If I sit down with those decisions already made, I can preserve my brainpower for the real creative work.)
A couple questions to guide you as you think about your writing life this month:
What are you most proud of in your writing life from the last couple of months? It’s probably easiest to think of tangible accomplishments—projects finished, essays published, etc—but I’d enocurage you to think, too, about your practice—how you’ve been working and what you’ve learned about yourself as a writer. I’d enocurage you to look back through your calendar, notebook, photos on your phone, etc to jog your memory. Chances are, you’ve done a lot more than you think.
What have you learned about your writing process in the last couple months? I’ve been thinking a lot about the balance between planning, reflection, and production. It feels so good to ratchet up the word count—but I’ve learned that for those words to actually be the right ones, I need to allow for more time for thinking and planning before I dive in to drafting.
What do you want to work on this fall, and why does that matter to you? How do you want that work to feel? I’m on deadline for my book (yay/sob), so my project is very clear—but I’ve been thinking a lot about how I want that work to feel: clear, focused, confident.
What about you? What have you learned about yourself and your writing process? What’s ahead of you?
And, as a reminder, the planning party is today! The link to register is here, and you can read all the info in this post:
more tips on planning, from the Write More archive . . .
on determining the what and why for your writing goals, plus deciding what not to do, with help from Charles DuHigg and Keri Bertino
on developing strategies for tracking your progress, or the benefits of what Rachel Yoder calls “deranged perseverance”
on setting up a spreadsheet to keep you on track, plus two creative non-spreadsheet ideas
this month in Write More . . .
🐙 “understand that there will be setbacks but also gifts,” a good creatures interview with writer
🐺on research as a “deeply omnivorous act,” plus a free association exercise to get you started
🐤 “caring for yourself as a caregiver is a necessary and hard job in tday’s world,” a good creatures interview with podcaster and writer
🌠 novelist and psychotherapist Yael Goldstein-Love on using her characters’ psychology as a portal into writing, plus a writing exercise
🎧 I talked toabout how working on this newsletter changed me as a writer and helped me get an agent and a book deal. (Sarah’s newsletter is full of so many great resources for anyone just getting started with .)
and a chance to write together this winter . . .
I’ll be leading a poetry incubator workshop at this year’s Murphy Writing Winter Getaway, this January 12-15, 2024, near Atlantic City, NJ. I’ve gone to the Getaway for years, as both a participant and a workshop leader, and it’s really a special place—welcoming and supportive for writers at all stages of their writing lives. (Several of the poems in Pocket Universe had their start at the Getaway!) I’d love to have you join my workshop—and there are so many other great workshops in poetry, fiction, nonfiction, memoir, songwriting, playwriting and more. And this year, to celebrate the 30th Getaway, there are a *ton* of scholarships available for first-time attendees—right now, I believe it’s 25! The deadline to apply for scholarships is October 1. You can read more and register at stockton.edu/wintergetaway
Write More, Be Less Careful is a newsletter about why writing is hard & how to do it anyway. I’d love to hear from you. Reply to this email, comment below, or find me on instagram (@nancy.o.reddy).
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