This post contains quite a few affiliate links to things I have found helpful. If you buy any of these things using these links Amazon will send me a small amount of money as a referral fee. But there’s no pressure on anyone to do that, I just wanted to write about a few things that I personally have found helpful.
Over the last year and a bit I’ve been engaged in an ‘on again, off again’ project to try to become more organised. I wouldn’t claim to be a particularly organised person, mostly because in the past I had plenty of spare time and was able to waste quite a lot of it without feeling too bad. That isn’t to say that I was actually productive, but I did do some things, so I guess I didn’t notice how unproductive I was when I had acres of time to waste.
Now I have a toddler things are very different, and I want to make the most of the little time I do have and complete some artistic things in it. In the last year I made a lot of effort to make sure I sat down to do something everytime I had a patch of time (and wasn’t in desperate need of a nap), and for a while felt quite productive. I think just establishing the habit in the first place was helpful at the start. But over time I began to realise that while I was doing things, I still didn’t seem to be able to actually finishing projects.
So then I went off and listened to some of those productivity podcasts and read some books about productivity systems. While most of them were helpful, they seemed to be aimed at people who did a different kind of work, the kind of work that can easily be split up into discrete tasks. In contrast I find that with a lot of my creative work, particularly my writing, how I would split it up into tasks like that is often a bit unclear. Then I stumbled across the book ‘From Chaos to Creativity’ by Jessie L Kwak (affiliate link) which is a book about productivity and creativity written by someone who is a working writer and who understands the sometimes nebulous nature of creative work. Personally, this is the book on productivity that made sense to me (indeed I’m planning on re-reading it this year), but after a good start I will say I have struggled to implement some of the advice that I thought was most helpful about actually planning work.
In January last year someone reccomended a planner that was specifically designed for writers and creatives by Audrey Ann Hughey. So I bought the 2021 version of the planner at the beginning of 2021, but am so disorganised that didn’t start using it until January 2022, and have been revising the dates as I go. In the past I have been one of those people who were very skeptical of planners, and a few years ago would probably have dismissed it. I think I was quite attached to the idea of creativity being this organic, fluid process that needed as few boundaries as possible, and the idea that you would actually plan that was difficult for me. This just goes to show how sometimes the stories we tell ourselves about the things we want to do can get in the way of actually doing the things we want to do.
For some reason I can’t quite put my finger on, I feel differently this year. There are things I want not only to work on, but to actually finish, and when I finish those things I want to actually get them to an audience. So I have picked up that planner and really tried to engage with it, and so far I’m finding it has made a real difference to my creative work.
What I really liked about the 2021 Author’s Planner (the 2022 version is available here, and an undated version is available here – affiliate links) is that it has sections that are designed to help you think about different aspects of your work, including (but not limited to); what your big picture ambitions are; how you want to use social media; what your expenses and income are; what your general plan is; and sections that give you more granular space to plan what you are going to do over the next year, three months, month and coming week.
I’ve been using the planner for about two weeks and I have already finished something! This week I’ve submitted a short story to a magazine. I had stopped working on it when there wasn’t a huge amount of work left to do (which seems to be the point at which I abandon a lot of projects). At the beginning of the year I set myself the focus of submitting that story in January, and by the end of the first week I had done that.
As we are only a few weeks into January, it remains to be seen if I can manage to be organised enough to continue using the planner, or if I fall of the productivity wagon again. But I’m looking forward to seeing how it goes.
Thank you for reading. I also write, make art and films. If you are interested in the process of creativity and want to get a copy of my free short book of creative prompts, and to hear more about my writing projects please join my mailing list here. You can see my films at my YouTube channel here. You can see things with my designs on at my shop here. Could even treat yourself if you wanted to. Just saying. If buying art is not your thing, but you would like to support what you see I also have a Patreon page here.
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