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I am a notebook hoarder. As a minimalist, it’s a hard thing to admit. While that’s the one thing I allow myself to have in abundance (ignore the mound of highlighters and colored pens), it’s harder to admit that I have very rarely made it to the last page of a notebook and completed it.
The same went for planners. I’ve never had a planner that I could stick with for more than a few weeks. The best I’ve ever done is holding onto one for a month.
That is until I found the Passion Planner (affl).
I was desperate to find something that I could use once I started writing full-time. Before that day came, I tested out their free downloads so I could figure out whether I really wanted this planner or if it would fall flat. Why waste my money and time on something that I wasn’t going to stick with?
Boy, did I stick with it. For the first month I used the printouts (I was still working full time), I tracked everything. I wanted to know what sort of goals I’d need to set once I could write full time. Now I’m three months in and I’ve crossed off even more goals, set new ones, and realigned my writing goals for the future.
Word count tracking
I personally found the daily planner the best fit for what I was looking to accomplish. Every weekday, I use the planner to track all of my word counts. My end of the year goal (from June to December) is to write 500,000 words across all of my writing projects. That’s half a million words!
I count everything from blogging, fiction and non-fiction novel writing, to Medium writing. As of now, I’m nearing 200K (I’ve always loved to set a goal, reach it, and then go further, just to see what I’m capable of).
There are so many spaces that I keep track of words. The great thing is, you don’t have to use the pre-typed sections as they are. I use the ‘free space to grow’ section for keeping track of individual project word counts. For example, I have a novel in the works named “The Stolen Lives” and I’ll write out each additional chunk of words in that space. So if I write three chapters, I’ll have 3 different word counts added.
In the dot-grid, I’ll keep track of my overall word count. It helps me see my progress.
All Passion Planners come with an amazing roadmap where you can set out your goals for the next three months, the next year, the next 3 years, and then over a lifetime. Like I said before, I was able to cross off all of my 3 month goals, almost all of my year goals, and even one of my 3 year goals. I had to completely rewrite my goals — which is an awesome thing.
Now, there were a few that were ‘gimme’ goals — slightly easier things to accomplish. But having them written down and in front of me, I was able to start and finish them sooner than I initially thought I would. For example, one goal was to publish my third book in a series (Soul Obscured). It was already written, for the most part, but it needed some edits and a few additional chapters. I ended up publishing the book almost 3 months before I had intended.
Every month, you have a page to set more goals and work on something in your immediate plan. In the gamechanger goal section, I use the three spaces to write out my three most important tasks. Sometimes I don’t have three in a day but I never write more in. If I finish those three tasks, I’ll add more using the personal or work tabs. I know what I’m going to be working on each day and it’s incredibly satisfying to check off what I get accomplished.
I’m not saying you have to be productive every hour of the day, but it’s incredibly enlightening to see where you’re wasting time. Every gap in my hourly tracker either tells me I was taking a productive break or I was wasting time.
I build breaks into my day, highlighted in a different color, but I know that if it’s blank, I’m not using that time wisely. Sometimes I find myself scrolling social media or watching TV. Seeing those big gaps in time makes me want to plan out my breaks so I can be useful. Nowadays, those gaps are typically full of some sort of beneficial rest such as reading.
I love the weekly spread for this (I still use the free printouts in conjunction with my daily planner). This helps me plan ahead for the week. Every Sunday, I sit down and fill this out so I can have my goals set for the week and I know what I need to accomplish.
Notes, ideas, and inspiration
The massive amount of space on the daily planner, as well as the dot grids in the back of their other planners, gives me a lot of space to write down notes, ideas, and any strikes of inspiration I get when I’m out. Now I don’t have to take an idea notebook, planner, writing notebook, and more in my bag. I can set out with just the Passion Planner and know I have the space to write whatever I want.
The space also provides enough room for free fun. You can doodle, if that’s your thing, or you can put stickers everywhere you want. I love the minimalist feel — a clean layout that helps me organize my mind. Others are beyond talented at creating themes and drawing and putting stickers everywhere. I applaud their creativity! The great thing is that the Passion Planner fits all of your needs. If you love busy, colorful design, you can make it your own. If you prefer minimalist, that’s great too!
I have so much space to write out ideas and outlines for my work. Often, I outline my Medium posts on a dot grid page before I write my articles. Sometimes I’ll come up with an idea for a novel and write it down in the personal space, ignoring the lines. Freedom to make it what you want gives you even more space to put your writing goals.
Writers need self-care too
If I could write 24/7, I would. I love it so much. But writers need self-care too. Every day in my daily, I try to do one activity during my breaks that falls into the self-maintenance category. That can be reading, mindfully enjoying some water, taking a break with the puppy outside, or even spending time petting a cat when one of them jumps on my lap.
Seeing that little box on my daily planner every time I open it is a good reminder that I need to be doing something for my health. It helps keep my mind fresh and ready to go when I want to jump back into writing.
I’ve never loved a planner as much as I’ve loved this Passion Planner. I knew this was the method for me after I completed my three month goals in just a month. I published two full-length novels, four short stories, consistent weekly articles on Medium, and even relaunched a newsletter. Starting this planner, and sticking with it, was easier than any other planner I’ve ever tried. I look forward to using it every day and I can’t wait to see what goals I accomplish next.
Picking up this Passion Planner was the best thing I’ve ever done for my writing career.
If you’re interested in the Passion Planner (affl), check out their free downloads. When you find the best one for you, use code LAURAW10 at checkout for 10% off everything (I do receive commission on these sales but it costs you nothing).
You can join my tribe and learn more about my writing process and get a short story and the first chapter of one of my novels. You can also find the short stories and novels I’ve published under my name and my pen name.