Bag of Tricks (Tools of the Trade)

Why You Need an Editorial Calendar

An editorial calendar is a lifesaver for a busy writer
Photo by Bich Tran from Pexels

You only have one writing project at a time. Maybe you have a virtual assistant that takes on the minutiae of your marketing tasks for you. There’s nothing wrong with either situation, this post just isn’t about you. Nope. I’m talking to those of us who manage multiple writing “venues” on our own. And find ourselves wondering what we were thinking. (Okay, so I know that answer. We wanted exposure!) How in the world are we supposed to keep everything straight? And on time? And not repeat ourselves? Easy: set up an editorial calendar! (Come on – you had to know I, of all people, was going to suggest an organizational tool)

Getting Organized

Before you can set up your editorial calendar, you need to do some work. Because you can’t move forward if you don’t know what you’ve already accomplished. And if you don’t already have SOME form of structure in place, you’ll find working with a planner a touch difficult.

Luckily, even social media has an archive feature.

This means it will only cost you time to go back over what you’ve previously created:

  • Make a list of the topics (with titles!) you’ve already written about in your blog
    • Ideally, break things out by category (assuming you haven’t already done so when you wrote the posts)
    • Include the tags you used
  • Look over your social media posts and note what your major themes have been
    • Make a list of the common hashtags you use
    • Don’t forget to include your stories!
  • If you’ve gone that route, review your videos and see what topics you’ve posted
  • Read back over your newsletters, jotting down all of your takeaways and messaging

(By the way, this is where having a collection of notebooks comes in handy)

If you prefer the tech side of things, input your work into a spreadsheet. Then you can sort it and play around with the data.

Once you have a record of where you are, currently, you’re ready to move forward with your calendar.

The Editorial Calendar

An editorial calendar is nothing more than a guideline for your work. You can even incorporate it into your current planners. As long as YOU know what the colors or notations mean, that’s what matters. (I started with a separate planner, but I’ve since moved to using my trusty whiteboard calendars)

At the beginning of each month – or two months out, three, or even the whole YEAR – sit down and plan out your blog posts, newsletter topics, and social media. This way, you can correlate them around specific events in your life, holidays, national holidays, whatever. It saves you from scrambling for material at the last moment.

And it gives you time to PLAN.

This is especially helpful for those times when the unexpected occur. Such as medical emergencies, family traumas, etc. You will already have your work planned out and can focus your time and energy elsewhere.

You can even write and schedule the posts to drop on time. (Isn’t technology grand?)

Social Media and Editorial Calendars

Trying to fill in those daily posts on social media can get tricky. And, yes, you need to be consistent if you want to see a strong engagement. While there ARE national holidays EVERY DAY, you may not want to resort to that. And cute animal photos are always popular, but you want to go the writing route to promote yourself. Without driving everyone nuts with constant self-promotion and pleas to buy your work.

So what are you going to do?

Think through a reasonable editorial calendar. And Susan Leigh Needham has a reasonable plan to get you started. I participate in the Writer Friends Challenge she co-hosts on Instagram, and it helps me fill in the gaps between my regular posts. (It’s also a great group of people to hang out with)

There are plenty of other monthly challenges out there you can participate in, and the graphics drop before the start of the month. So it’s a cinch to add them to your schedule. Then you have plenty of time to design your graphics in Canva, schedule them to drop, and voila! You’re done!

No more frantically wondering how to tie in a picture of your microwave dinner to your WIP.

Editorial Calendars are Friends

Am I biased toward organization?

Of course!

But that’s because it makes life easier. Between my whiteboards and planner, I have a concise editorial calendar. I know when I need to work on certain pitches, when to focus on essays for submission, or specific short stories, when entries are due for contests, as well as what I’m planning to write for this blog, my Substack, and the topics up on my Instagram.

Everything is color-coded and easy to see at a glance. So I’m never stressed or frantic.

Not even when I end up taking a week off to heal from surgery. (Having time blocked off is another handy feature of that calendar)

So if you aren’t already planning things out for yourself, give it a try. What’s the worst thing that could happen? (Or were you happy with the constant stress?)

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