An Editorial Calendar Will Keep You Sane

I currently write three daily blogs and contribute a monthly column to one more. For a long while I simply wrote on my whims about whatever came to mind at that moment. Rarely did I think about what was coming up or where I needed to be in a week. Needless to say, that wasn’t working consistently for me. I missed deadlines, wrote uninteresting posts, and wasn’t meeting the goals I had set for myself.

I was determined to turn my work habits around and be more positively productive. To that end, I began using an editorial calendar and I cannot recommend it enough. An editorial calendar is simply a schedule of where you are writing, what topics you plan to cover, and when you plan to cover them. Whether you write one blog or many, an editorial calendar can keep you sane.

I am not your average blogger, I know. Having three distinct blogs is more than most people care to tackle. I think of blogging as my career, though, and as such, I dedicate a lot of time working on each blog. Each one demands a different strength, but they all demand my time.

Part of my calendar reminds me of what I need to accomplish each week for each blog. For example, Bloggy Giveaways requires that I contact vendors each week to remind them their giveaway is coming up. I must also keep an eye on who is reading Bloggy Giveaways, which giveaways receive the most traffic, how many click-throughs I’m generating for the vendors, etc. Finally, I must know what vendor options I have so if I’m low on giveaways, I can contact new ones to fill my empty calendar.

Blogging Basics 101 requires that I keep tabs on what is happening in technology and can distill that information for my audience. I also have to research multiple platforms in order to answer questions and respond to comments. I spend a few hours each day following tech blogs so I can be up-to-date on how blogging is changing and moving ahead. This research also helps me write my monthly column at 5 Minutes for Mom and provides many of the links you see on Fridays in Helpful Blogging Links.

Organizing all those tasks without a calendar is a nightmare, I assure you. I forgot ideas or simply ignored them. I became overwhelmed and ended up sitting at my computer playing Sudoku online or fiddling with iTunes–anything to avoid starting because I didn’t know where to start.

Once I determined my editorial calendar and stuck to it, writing became a pleasure again. I felt as though my posts were better, I was more organized, and I actually liked my job.

In coordination with my editorial calendar I use a notebook. I write all of my blog post ideas down in this notebook. I carry it with me everywhere. That way, if I see something or think of something, I can keep track of it without worrying that I’ll forget it later. This process serves two purposes:

  1. It allows me to have a working list of ideas in case I am suffering from writer’s block.
  2. It allows me to organize my posts in a way that makes sense to me and make notes as necessary.

For my editorial calendar I use a large desk calendar (which is actually hung on my wall) to keep track of what tasks I need to accomplish for which blogs and when. I include recurring tasks as well as unique ones. For each blog I write at, I write down what topic I am going to cover on each day and when that post will be published.

Keep in mind that I usually have posts written several days, if not a full week, in advance. I find that gives me a little more ease if I have a day where I just can’t write due to family duties or anything else that may come up.

Writing posts in advance also allows me to focus on what is coming up and not be pressured to finish my post immediately. I can write, walk away, come back, edit, re-write, etc. I can take my time and ensure that my posts are interesting and well-written.

Having a calendar telling me which topics I’m going to be covering keeps me thinking about them in the back of my mind. As I consider new ideas and angles for each topic, I write them down in my journal or on the calendar itself.

One thing to note about an editorial calendar: include wiggle room. There are topics that will pop up and demand your attention or a post immediately. Or, you just may not feel like writing about that topic at that moment. A writer’s muse is a fickle thing. It’s OK to switch things up; sometime our writing flow just goes a different way than we expected and we’re ready to write about a memory instead of coding. Just make sure each item finds a place on your calendar.

You’ll be happy to know that once you start using an editorial calendar, you will be in good company. Here are a few other posts to help you start: