Erica Vetsch here:
As we’re deep into the season of ‘pumpkin-spice everything people are already beginning to think about winter and the coming of 2020. With every new year comes the desire for new plans and goals, and folks start thinking about how to get organized to make those goal-dreams a reality.
For some people, this means a new planner. I love looking at new planners at the office supply store, but somehow, they never seemed to cover all the things I wanted. I found myself having to tailor my life to the planner instead of the other way around. I'd stopped getting planners each year and just decided to 'wing it.'
Then I was given the opportunity to scrutinize an advanced copy of the My Brilliant Writing Planner 2020
. And I can tell you, I did, every single page! I’m inspired, I’m humbled, and I’m impressed! Finally, a planner that seems to 'get me.'
I’m thrilled to have my friend, Susan May Warren, the creator of the My Brilliant Writing Planner 2020
here with us on Seekerville to talk about how the planner came to be and how to use the planner to best advantage. FYI! Seeker-Villagers, as I leafed through the pages of the MBWP, I had so many questions! I've put those questions to Susie, and her answers are below, but if you have others, be sure to ask them in the comments section!
1. What led you to create a writing planner to share with other writers?
For years, writers and others have asked me how I get so much accomplished. Wife, mother, author, active in my church, teacher—frankly, it’s no bigger load than anyone else, but I was writing, on average, four books a year, sometimes more, as well as marketing, and sometimes it looked like a lot. The truth is, I’ve always been very focused—in my goals, and my time. And that has allowed me to produce good work in a short amount of time. (more on that below) I have been using and honing my system for a decade, but I finally put it together in a planner a couple years ago and those who have used it have said it changed their writing life. I’ve been honing it every year—looking for something for the creative, but also the business minded. (or those who want to be!) It’s the best way I know to help people build productive, focused careers.
2. What makes your planner different from others targeted specifically for writers?
Its built for the creative mind, the mind that needs big chunks of time to focus on writing, or marketing or other areas of their lives. The fact is, creatives need plenty of white space to think and brainstorm and write and rewrite, and we need to schedule our lives around what I call “Power Blocks” or chunks of focused time that allow for people to dig into their story/creativity. Power Blocks also give the answer as to what to do with the inevitable interruptions that threaten our focus. (don’t worry, there is a free course that comes with the planner that teaches the concept and application of Power Blocking.) Along with creating a system especially for creatives, our planner is doodle-friendly, and includes a publishing strategy section, a life-planning section and a way to corral it all in the daily planning. And my favorite part—it includes a section of daily journaling.
3. What if you’re not a planner-type person? What does the MBWP offer for those with less-structured preferences?
The point of the planner is to corral your plans without pinning you down. It’s NOT the kind of planner that is going to pin you down to a structure, but leaves you free to move with your energy, your daily flow, and your creativity. But, the planner helps you capture all your goals, based on your values, and even helps you prioritize which ones to pursue. Just having the right questions to answer will help you get a view of your life—and help you see the small things that will lead to the big picture. At the very least it will help you see what is on your immediate radar, and allow you to figure it out day by day without getting overwhelmed.
4. What’s your favorite section of the planner?
Oh, aside from the daily inspiration section, I LOVE the storycrafting section in the back. I love having all my story ideas in one place. I often think of something to add as I’m having my daily miracle morning, or even after I finish with my writing day—and I capture it all in one place. My characters and plots are all together and it’s so easy to keep track of my story. (and I love the word count tracking system each month!)
5. Receiving the planner and opening it up is quite an experience in and of itself. What prompted you to go the extra mile with the packaging to make getting that rainbow box such a special event?
Our stories matter! And I wanted to create that feeling of excitement going into 2020—almost like you get to un-box your dreams and hopes for the new year. I picked the inspirational message to motivate authors as they opened the box with the hope that they would know that a great year awaited them.
6. Inside the planner there are places to track things other than writing, which makes the MBWP more than just a writing journal/tracker. What areas were you keen to focus on when creating the planner?
The idea was to create ONE planner for everything. In the past I usually had 3 or even 4 planners – a prayer journal, a writing planner, a business planner and a household planner. I hated hauling around and keeping track of all these separate elements. MBWP includes all the elements of our lives—from meal planning, to errands and appointments, to what we’re reading, to water consumption, social media tracking, and even a place to evaluate our month! I love all the useful pieces—plus, it’s fun to write on!
7. The planner is printed in black-and-white, with lots of open space to encourage colorful creativity when filling out the pages. Do you think being creative within the planner will spark creativity in our writing?
I hope so! I’m a doodler when I’m thinking, or listening, and all our monthly pages are coloring pages for exactly that purpose. But I also doodle or color on the inspiration pages as I’m thinking or praying, and I also keep notes on the back pages (at the end of each month.) I promotes the concept of sitting and thinking, and frankly, that’s one of the biggest elements of being a writer…thinking!
8. Some of the features are so common-sense that they can be easy to overlook, like the elastic band to keep it closed, the pocket in the back for holding extras, etc. One of my favorites is the spiral binding that allows the planner to be laid flat for ease of use. Do you have a favorite ‘extra’ feature?
THE STICKERS!!! I love the 2 pages of stickers in the back. They’re to track both writing and something called SACRED REST. Sacred Rest is all about refilling ourselves intentionally in those areas where we pour out (there is a class on this in the course!) But they add an element of fun to the planner. (which is already super fun!)
9. We’re fast approaching the craziest month on the writing calendar, November, which is National Novel Writing Month. How can the MBWP help prepare writers for NaNoWriMo even before 2020 rolls around?
I’m glad you asked. Our November section is especially designed for NaNoWriMo with a word count planner. We also have a word count tracker every day, so that is especially important for NaNo. Finally, the storycrafting sheets in the back are a great place to keep your story as you motor through the month.
10. Can you talk about the bonus online class that comes with every MBWP purchase?
We created a course because we understand that this has elements that are maybe not as intuitive as other planners. (e.g. there are NO 15 minute time increments!) So, I create a class—most of the lessons are about 10-20 minutes long—to help understand how to adapt the planner to your own system. The include everything from strategic planning to habit stacking, to brilliant bursts and sprints, to how to use the time templates and power blocks. We also offer tips on time management (of course) and how to get stuff done!
Also, this year we added three classes on Values Based planning, Prayer Targets and Sacred Rest.
11. Where can writers learn more about the My Brilliant Writing Planner and get their hands on a copy for themselves?
It’s available on Amazon and at www.mybrilliantwritingplanner.com
Erica here again. So, there you have it. An exciting, powerful, helpful planner designed just for writers to help them get organized and meet their goals, both those in the writing life and those in "normal" life. :)
Do you have a special writer in your life? Wondering what to get them for Christmas that will show that you love them and support their writing dreams? The My Brilliant Writing Planner 2020
makes a great gift!
Susan May Warren is the USA Today bestselling, Christy, Carol, and RITA award–winning author of more than sixty-five novels whose compelling plots and unforgettable characters have won acclaim with readers and reviewers alike. In addition to her writing, Susan is an internationally acclaimed writing teacher and runs an academy for writers, Novel.Academy. She’s taught at conferences around the world and helped many novelists onto the bestseller list.
Be sure to ask questions in the comments section! Susie (and I) would love to hear from you! ~ Erica