“I need to develop an editorial calendar for my blog,” she tells me at the start of our coaching call.
“Sounds great!” I reply. “I’m sure we can figure out a process that will work for you.”
(I resist the urge to tell her that my confidence comes from having tried and failed at so many editorial calendars before finding the right one for me!)
“Tell me a bit about your readers,” I say, “and the topics you’ve been writing about lately.”
“Oh, I’m not writing,” she responds with surprise.
“Why not?” I ask, more bluntly than I should.
“Because I don’t have a plan.”
If I Only Had a Plan
I get it.
I’m a “big picture” kinda gal myself.
And it’s true that in many areas of life, planning must come before execution.
As a teacher, I lay out the “scope and sequence” for an entire school year before focusing on individual units and lessons.
As the vacation coordinator for our family, I must know the dates of our trip before I can book plane tickets. Which must be purchased before I reserve hotel rooms.
But being a writer is different.
To be a writer is to live in the constant tension between the big picture and daily practice.
The Myth of the Perfect Plan
Too many would-be writers are waiting for the perfect plan before they get started.
Some of us believe that if we can just find the right plan, we will actually feel wildly motivated to write.
A lot of us harbor this alluring belief: “If I had the perfect plan, I could produce perfect writing.”
And many of us don’t want to “waste” time on writing if it isn’t going to lead to anything.
The One Way to Make Strong Progress
I started blogging almost a decade ago. I had absolutely no clue what I was doing. In hindsight, I can see that —according to the experts!—I did almost everything wrong.
But here’s what I did right:
I wrote my heart out.
I wrote thousands of blog posts and hundreds of thousands of words, most without any plan—other than to faithfully write what God had laid on my heart.
Eventually, as I saw the occasional person share a post here and a post there, I looked for ways to make my writing more accessible. I got more tech-savvy. Learned about branding. Figured out my target audience.
But my primary focus remained the same:
Then revise (‘cause nobody produces perfect writing) and share.
Then write next week.
And write next month.
As underwhelming as it may feel, write is the “big picture.”
What You Need to Know About Making Strong Writing Progress
Writing is never wasted.
There’s something intrinsically valuable about producing a body of work.
I’m protective of all my blog posts, even the ones that have never been read or shared.
They serve as mile markers along the journey of slow, steady writing progress that God’s been leading me on.
When I’m faced with doubt about the future, my own words remind me— without a doubt—that God can be trusted.
Speaking of all those blog posts I wrote back when I had no clue?
Over time, I discovered a common thread connecting many of them: perfectionism. And I co-authored a book about it. Then I discovered another thread: overwhelmedness. And I co-authored a book about that.
I did not have a “big picture” for either book during the months and years prior, when I sat down, day after day, to simply write.
I just knew that I had to be obedient to God’s call to write.
And the elusive “big picture” emerged from—of all places!—my writing.
Now, I’m not knocking an editorial calendar; I rely on mine. But don’t expect a simple tool to be a magic bullet.
Having a plan won’t automatically cure procrastination, guarantee perfection, or ensure efficiency.
You can make clear writing progress even when the big picture is hazy.