By Rohi Shetty
The best thing you can do as a writer is to create an editorial calendar and stick to it. This single step will transform your writing life because you will gain incredible focus and clarity. It will help you to avoid stress, procrastination, and writer’s block.
We writers are notorious for procrastinating and waiting until the last possible moment to complete their projects. Missing deadlines is a cardinal sin for a professional writer and yet we have all missed deadlines more times than we care to recall.
Often we stay up late to complete the project and submit it just in time. We promise ourselves we won’t repeat this mistake again. And the next time, we repeat the same sorry pattern. It’s a destructive habit we just can’t seem to escape.
We should never finish anything the night before it’s due to be published. Aside from the caffeine overload and the sleepless night, we don’t give ourselves enough time to review, revise, and polish our writing.
The foolproof way to avoid this curse of procrastination is to use an editorial calendar. An editorial calendar helps you to decide what you’re going to publish well in advance so that all your writing projects are completed and ready to be published weeks beforehand.
We need to ask ourselves if we are willing to take our writing seriously. If we have an article that is due to be published on Friday and we complete it a few minutes before time, we are too late. Publishing content in this way is stressful and unprofessional. However, we are late even if we complete the article a couple of days before. So we need to create at least 4–6 fully completed articles in advance.
For example, if you publish a post on your blog every week, you should create 6-8 posts in advance. Does that sound crazy? Probably, yes. But is it doable? Yes, provided you make a major shift in the way you plan your work. Here’s how to do it.
Schedule a list of topics or articles
How often do you have a blank mind staring at a blank page with blank eyes? For a writer, there is no greater suffering. You’re wasting energy thinking instead of writing.
The way to avoid this is to plan in advance. You need to know the topic you are going to write about before you sit down to write. Set aside one day every week and make a list of topics to write about for the rest of the days in that week. You can even make a list of ten headlines for each topic.
Then schedule the topics for each day of the week. Put it on your calendar: topic, working headlines, and the time allotted for each day. For example, make a list of topics on Sunday and schedule it on your calendar. Then on Monday, you just have to look at the calendar to know what you’re going to write about.
In the previous step, you have created a scheduled list of topics for each day of the week. The next step is to create an editorial calendar, which is simply a schedule to publish specific topics on specific days.
Creating an editorial calendar will depend on your writing process, the time available and the type of content that you wish to publish. In this step, you need to plan the steps that will take each article from preliminary idea to the final version. For example, you may schedule separate slots for the first draft, revision, proofing and final polishing before publication. This is different for each writer.
The most important part of the editorial calendar is creation of a content buffer. For example, if you send out a weekly newsletter, you need to create a buffer of 4 to 6 newsletters in advance.
To summarize, here are the steps to create your editorial list:
- Brainstorm a list of topics on a specific day of the week
- Schedule one or more topics or articles for each day of the week
- Schedule the time for each step of your writing process – headline, first draft, revision, proofing, and final polishing
- Create 4–6 articles in advance
- Decide the schedule of publishing each article and put them in the queue
- Repeat the process
The key step is to create a buffer of 4–6 articles in advance. These should include your own writing projects as well as projects for your clients. Ideally, you should complete every project a few days before the date of publication.
Equally important, you must schedule your promotion strategies in your editorial calendar. These may include:
- spread the word about your article on Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, LinkedIn, Pinterest, and other social media every week
- add the link to your email signature and
- email influencers in your niche
An effective way is to create a checklist and schedule a time to complete it every week.
Whether you write fiction or non-fiction or short articles or novels, using an editorial calendar is a no-brainer. It’s the most effective way to get rid of stress, indecision, procrastination, writer’s block, and perfectionism
Join the conversation
Have you set up an editorial calendar for your own writing and promotion activities? What kind of editorial calendar do you use?
Let us know in the comments below.
(30 September 2018)
Rohi Shetty is a doctor, health writer, and digital publisher. Check out his Kindle books on Amazon and connect with him on LinkedIn. You can contact him here if you want his help to publish and promote your books on Amazon or Smashwords.