“How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives. What we do with this hour, and that one, is what we are doing. A schedule defends from chaos and whim.” — Annie Dillard, The Writing Life
Have you ever noticed that you set big writing goals at the start of the new year — only to discover a few months later that you’ve made no progress?
One of the weapons against procrastination is a goal planner.
When I set out to find annual goal planners for writers, I was surprised. Even though there are so many writers, and the procrastination problem is so widespread, there isn’t a ‘to go to’ planner tailored for the writing life!
Yes, you can use general goal planners (I’ve reviewed some of them here), but wouldn’t it be great to have a journal that prompts you every day to set your writing goal, track your word count, and celebrate your wins?
After some digging, I’ve found three great options that you probably don’t know of. They were published by writers’ coaches and editors.
If you want to become a more productive writer 2022, consider investing in one of them.
52 Weeks of Writing Journal and Planner
The 52 Weeks of Writing (£27.99) author journal and planner can be started any time, though the new year is a perfect time to do so. It has the feel of being with a writers’ coach who asks you to reflect deeply every week.
Week by week, you gain clarity about your goals and reflect at the end of the week. What’s special about this planner is that it has 52 optional creative writing prompts in addition, such as writing a letter to yourself from the future. You may not have time for this every week, but these prompts are always there if you need inspiration.
The planner also asks you to pick an accountability partner and prompts you to reflect on that relationship at the end of the week. This is a uniqe feature that helps writers who need someone to exchange goals with and stay on track.
Annual goal setting
- there are prompts for longer visions and setting an annual goal in the ‘week 1’ section
Weekly and daily goal setting
- there’s a weekly overview table for Monday to Friday writing with am, pm and night slots — I find that space too small for daily planning (see photo)
- weekly “planning” section across two pages to set goals and break them down using prompts and space to journal
- weekly “tracking” section to reflect on your past seven days, how to adjust your expectations going forward, and how to find a better accountability partner if the one this week didn’t work out
- no weekly tracking tables — you’ll have to write it in your journaling sections or customise little sections to track word count if you like (easily done, there’s lots of space)
- there’s a tracking table at the end of the book for each week to note the goal and answer if you completed it (for all 52 weeks)
Review and reflection
- in addition to the weekly review and reflection prompts
- at 3 and 6-months you get a celebration prompt (how will you reward yourself)
- quarterly reflection questions (oddly, it asks you to reflect on the last 3 months at the 6-month mark; just change the prompt yourself)
The weekly creative writing prompts fit right into the reflective vibe of this planner, and you can try out these exercises whenever you have time.
I love that the idea of carefully selecting an accountability partner is included every week so that you remember to find a person to support your writing. If one person is not suitable, keep looking.
If you start this planner at the new year, a few questions on long-term goals would be useful.
There are no daily planning pages, and the weekly overview is not enough space for me to plan out daily goals every morning. You’d have to do that separately (e.g. with a daily goal setting pad like this one).
If you like writing prompts, journaling and reflection, the 52 Weeks of Writing planner is for you. You’ll probably have a good system for daily goal setting already on the side. Instead of fussing about word count tracking you get to journal about your goals and reflect deeply.
Urban Writer’s Retreat Writer’s Diary and Planner 2022
The sleek little planner by Urban Writers’ Retreat (£25) is simple but effective. There’s no overload of things to track daily — you set a weekly goal, then a daily goal, and then get writing. It’s small enough to carry around (A5).
It also has all the great ingredients you need to plan your 2022 productivity and reflect regularly. It works equally for academic and non-academic writers.
Annual goal setting
- prompts to reflect on the previous year
- prompts to write down your writing dreams and your future self in 5 years
- setting three top goals for 2022 and breaking them down in quarters
- breaking down each month into weekly milestones
Weekly and Daily goal setting
- two-page overview over the week (7 days) and you are asked to write the week’s target and goals at the top
- you can customise the daily slots by, for example, by adding your top three goals or tracking your writing rituals (though space is limited)
- consecutive pages at the front to set a word goal and track the actual written words for each day of 2022
- a table to track your submissions to journals or competitions (although I feel an excel sheet might work better if you need more entries)
Review and reflection
- after each month you write down what you achieved and what went well, and you plan ahead for the next month
The benefits of this planner are that there are no distractions. Some planners require you to fill in lots of prompts each day, some of which may be irrelevant for writers. This planner is simple and elegant (and small enough to carry around). The prompts work well for writers, and the regular review of your progress helps you stay on track.
I wish there was more space on the daily slots. I used the planner last year, and I like to write down my top 3 goals for the day, schedule them into hourly slots (timeboxing), and keep track of appointments.
I noticed that I couldn’t squeeze all of that in, so I started setting daily goals on post-its and blank sheets of paper. That meant that I didn’t use the planner every day, and I missed out on some of the features. If you’re someone like me who tends to procrastinate daily and needs detailed daily overviews, you might want to invest in a daily goals pad in addition to this planner (like this one, affiliate link).
In sum, the 2022 Writer’s Diary and Planner by Urban Writer’s Retreat is a great option for writers who want to start the year strong. The yearly goal-setting pages alone are worth the money because they help you create your writing roadmap at the start of the year. It’s shipped from the UK, so shipping costs might differ.
The 2022 Author’s Planner
The 2022 Author’s Planner (£20) is the biggest of the three planners. It’s basically textbook size and is an all-in-one journal and planner to organise your writing tasks and keep track of all your manuscripts, editor and agent contacts, marketing, social media or blogging plans for your books, and more. It also has inspirational quotes throughout.
It’s probably more useful for non-academic authors unless you’re an academic who is looking for a wider impact with their writing and publishing.
Annual goal setting tools
- prompts to set out your vision for 2022, and to select the top three goals
- space to set targets for number of manuscripts, conferences, publications, email followers, blogs, or writing contests you want to engage with
- for each manuscript, there is a full page for title, brief synopsis, uniqueness, and deadlines — so that you turn ideas into an action plan
- for each month, you set your priorities for the actual writing, but also how to grow your social media list, manage your sales, advertising plans, budget, and newsletter publications.
- you track your words written, pages edited, blog posts, social media consistency, pitches sent, etc. every quarter
Weekly and Daily goal setting
- two large pages that show you an overview over 7 days, with space to set hourly schedules on each day and notes to set writing targets
- for each day, you count the words written and habits followed
- under the weekly overview, you can note your wellness goals for the week and priorities
- there are no separate daily pages; you’ll have to write daily goals in the weekly overview or do it separately elsewhere
- detailed reflection pages each month with prompts about your achievements, lessons learned, etc.
This planner goes beyond simple productivity tools and covers all aspects of the author’s life including budgeting, social media, and marketing. It might be a bit daunting for the beginner, but on the plus side, it will prompt you to fully live the author’s life — including how to earn money and build a platform.
It’s probably impossible not to become a professional writer if you use this!
With such a comprehensive planner it’s hard to say what’s missing. I do like to have a separate daily page to plan each day, but this is hardly possible if you already have so much content in the book.
I would like a few pages specifically to plan your writing habits and rituals, and space to track them (there’s my inner procrastinator speaking again).
The 2022 Author’s Planner is an all-in-one planner that you will keep on your desk to manage your professional writing life. If you simply want to write a lot and need a goals planner only, you can still use this well for setting goals and reflecting regularly — just ignore the other pages. They might become more important once you’re more advanced as a professional writer. I felt certainly compelled to think about my wider writing life after using this. There’s a coil bound version on LuLu ($39.95) as well.