Writing with a Motivational Calendar

13 Apr

My life has changed quite a bit over the past year. Between moving and starting (two) new jobs, I’ve had to adjust my writing life and the way I think about my writing life. As many of you know, I currently work full time at the library and then work part time as a freelance editor. Suffice it to say, I don’t have a ton of time to pursue writing, but I try not to let that get me down (because I definitely don’t have extra time to feel down about it either, though it happens from time to time).

So what does a full-time working adult do to feel like they’re still pursuing their writing dreams?

Well, write, of course, but I also keep a motivational calendar.

What’s a motivational calendar?

Technically, it could be whatever you want. Mine, in fact, has changed over the years. A couple years ago, for instance, I liked to have a “future” motivational calendar. Meaning, I would write down goals for that week, and then get it done. Now my calendar is focused on the past. Every day, I take the time to record everything I did to pursue my writing goals. Mostly, I write down my current word count, how many queries I sent, how many writing-related jobs (such as a literary internship) I applied for, and other miscellaneous info. I also make sure to outline where I started on Day 1 and then I update that info on the last day. That way, I can see progress. Oh, and my favorite part, I highlight major accomplishments, like a full request from an agent. 

Here’s a snapshot of my January calendar.

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Since it’s small, here’s some facts. I started 2019 with my WIP “The Girl With The Thousand Faces” being 26,996 words in first draft/plotting. At the end, it was 31,533 with significant world building being finalized. My other WIP “The Pharaoh’s Daughter” started at 53,633 in its second draft. It ended with 81,938 words and completed. In that time, I also applied for four jobs and sent out five queries on my YA sci-fi “Immersion.” Most exciting of all? I received a full request from an agent for “Immersion” and won the Secret Agent contest with my historical “The Pharaoh’s Daughter,” which also resulted in a full request from an agent. (P.S. Both are still pending, so keep your fingers crossed for me.)

It might seem tedious or silly to keep track of all the ways you pursue your dreams, but to me, it keeps me motivated. It helps me remind myself how hard I am working – that I haven’t given up my writing dreams because X, Y, or Z in life – and that I will keep trying. Plus, it’s easy to forget all that you do on a day-by-day basis, and by having a physical representation of it, you won’t forget. You’ll know how hard you work (and also know it’s okay to take a break). You might notice, for instance, that I don’t write every day, or do anything some days. And that’s okay. 

One word at a time, one day at a time, right?

Oh, and one more note of importance.

My calendar is definitely cat-themed.

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~SAT

 

15 Responses to “Writing with a Motivational Calendar”

  1. The Animation Commendation April 13, 2019 at 9:41 am #

    Cool calendar! I need to motivate myself to write more!

  2. pennyfrances April 13, 2019 at 2:54 pm #

    Shannon, I’m a follower of your blog, and you are as always an inspiration. You have been so open about the difficulties and disappointments you have faced, but if this is you fitting it all in around full time work, I hardly dare imagine how far you’d get if you wrote full time. That said, I am I believer in some kind of day job for a writer, not just because we need the income, but also the way a job connects you to the outside world and people and their stories you would never encounter in a writer’s ivory tower. Keep it up Shannon, and yes, glad to see the blank days in there proving you are human and give yourself breaks. 🙂

    • Shannon A Thompson April 13, 2019 at 5:53 pm #

      So glad you enjoyed the post! I agree, I think my day job has definitely kept me more rounded (and grounded), and it gives me a breather from writing, which is important. Thank you for your insightful comment!
      ~SAT

  3. Greg Schaffer April 13, 2019 at 7:34 pm #

    I think whatever works is worth pursuing. I tried something similar once and the structure didn’t work for me. But I’m odd anyway 😊

  4. DebyFredericks April 14, 2019 at 9:47 am #

    Everything is better with cars. Even if you have allergies, you can look at photos without breaking into sneezes.

  5. Sarcasticus Rex April 20, 2019 at 1:03 pm #

    I had the same idea of using a calendar to keep track of my accomplishments. Although, I haven’t accomplished as much as I’d like, this idea is a good one. Nice to see someone else using this method. Give me hope. Plus, kittens!

  6. debblogs May 19, 2019 at 10:24 am #

    Thanks for the calendar idea. I’m definitely going to try it as I’ve been lacking motivation to write for quite some time now.

  7. Stefan July 24, 2019 at 11:42 pm #

    This is a great idea!!!

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