Ten Things to Help Plan Out Your Writing Year
Freeware caution: always scan free downloads of anything for bugs and other threats before dumping the programs into your hard drive.
Calendar: If you don't already own a 2013 calendar, you can pick up one at 50% off at your local Books-a-Million store, or shop the selection online at B&N.com, which is also 50% off until January 28th. For those who prefer a virtual calendar, I recommend Chaos Manager and Rainlendar Lite freeware.
Goals List: You have eleven and a half months of 2013 to write; why not put together a list of your goals for the year? If you've never done this, start by listing the twelve months, and note by each month one or two reasonable goals. For example, January: 1) write every day and 2) put together a writing plan for the year.
Map Your Mind: I prefer to brainstorm ideas on paper and put together notebooks and such, but one virtual alternative to that is using a mind mapper program like XMind to work out your ideas. According to the designer's site the original/non-pro version is still free to download, too.
Organize: Organizing yourself can make writing less of a hassle, so look around and see what you can do to tidy up your writing life. Suggestions: clear out the clutter from your writing space; create files for your current writing projects; restock your office supplies; catch up on your filing; perform any necessary maintenance on your computer; create a new tax ledger for the year, etc.
P&W Awards/Contests/Grants Database: Those of you who are poets or literary writers should check out this site's comprehensive database of awards, contests and grants here and keep an eye on their submission calendar for all of them here.
Planner: While you're out shopping for a calendar you might pick up a desk planner, too; these can be great for recording daily writing goals, expenses and vehicle mileage for tax time, upcoming events etc. You can also date ahead important reminders of appointments, deadlines, expected reponse times and so forth.
Ralan.com: I know some of you short fiction writers are upset by Duotrope's decision to charge five bucks a month for access, which I personally think was a stupid move, too. Don't despair, though; you can still find free market info out there. Ralan's place is the best and most frequently updated free source of open calls, sub ops, contests and dead markets I've found on the internet, and while it's basically geared for SF, Fantasy and Horror writers there are still listings for book publishers, myriad-themed anthologies and other markets outside those genres.
Red Notebook: Because it's calendar-based Red Notebook can be used as a planner as well as a writing tool. See my write-up on this freeware here.
Submission Tracker: If you'd like to better track your subs in 2013, SF author and computer programmer extraordinaire Simon Haynes offers Sonar3, a simple freeware here to help you ride herd on what you're sending out as well as what comes in.
Word Count Widget: If NaNoWriMo has taught us anything, it's to set writing goals and motivate ourselves, and one way we do this is to post and continually update a word count widget on our websites and blogs. If it works during November, why wouldn't it work for the rest of the writing year? To get a freebie, try Writertopia's Picometer or honorless.net's Java-based progress bar (or check out another eleven options over at Writing for Your Supper here.)
What do you find most useful to you when planning out your writing year? Let us know in comments.