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Here are the eight straightforward elements of a daily plan for creatives:

  1. Start each day with a simple, eloquent plan like “I am writing today.”
  2. Create a daily mantra that you use to keep yourself on track. It might be something like “I stay the course” or “Process” or “Effort, not outcome” or any phrase that resonates for you.
  3. Actively plan your day. Get a picture of when you’re creating, how many creative stints you’re penciling in, when you mean to do your art business, and so on. Plan your day to include both creating and the business of art.
  4. First thing each day, take a moment to think through where you want to invest meaning and then move effortlessly and without a fuss directly into your morning creativity practice.
  5. Plan for anything else that you consider important, like an AA meeting, some cognitive work, some anxiety management work where you practice one of your anxiety management tools, and so on.
  6. If you start to get down, remember to choose meaning over mood and to talk yourself back from doubts, worries, sadness, and all the rest. Try to keep yourself focused on the meaning you intend to make and not the mood you find yourself in.
  7. Be prepared to use small increments of time as they arise. Part of the idea of “daily planning” is the idea of remaining on your toes throughout the day so that you can deal with everyday emergencies and changed circumstances and use time as it arises for additional creative stints and additional business efforts.
  8. Go to bed mindfully each day, maybe by posing yourself a sleep thinking prompt like “I wonder what John and Mary want to chat about in chapter 2?” or “I wonder who to approach with my new suite of paintings?” By going to bed this way, you ask your brain to continue working on your behalf and you set yourself up for a productive next morning.

Next, let’s look at eight straightforward elements of a three-month plan (you can plan in a monthly way or you can plan in a three-month way; I think that choosing three months is a good idea):

  1. Create some system that allows you to keep track of three months at a time. You might use a large white board, a software solution, or an old-fashioned paper planner. Create the mechanism for keeping track of three months at a time.
  2. Identify weekly creative goals. You’ll be identifying daily goals as part of your daily planning; as part of your three-month planning identify weekly goals like “complete a draft of chapter two” or “start and finish one pumpkin painting.”
  3. Identify weekly marketing goals. This might sound like “contact two dozen literary agents with my email query” or “start the process of finding someone to build my website” or “search the net for London art galleries that might take an interest in my work.”
  4. Create backward timelines from when things are due or from when things are needed and pencil in the appropriate target goals. For example, if your manuscript is due to your publisher in six months’ time, create a backward timeline from that deadline and pencil in weekly goals that align with meeting that deadline.
  5. Pencil in special events, like open studio weekends or gallery visits, and also pencil in the special risks you’d like to take, for instance by choosing a particular day when you intend to cold call that gallery owner you’ve had your eye on.
  6. Note your networking opportunities during the coming three months. These might include the annual party that local publishers throw downtown, the openings of other artists, the conference your romance writers’ chapter is holding that agents and editors are attending, and so on.
  7. Pencil in the vacations you mean to take with your creative work—the weekend in the country you’re setting aside to plot your mystery, the day at the shore in the company of your sketchbook, and so on.
  8. Pencil in dates with your other loves. If your novel is your primary creative project during this three-month period but you also want to work on an art quilt and get a piece of wearable art made, you indicate on your calendar which Saturday you’re devoting to the one and which weekend you’re devoting to the other. In this way you get your main creative work done but you also pay attention to your other projects and your other interests.


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