How To Plan Your Writing Life

How To Plan Your Writing Life - How To Write the Future, Bright Orange background with a picture of a woman writing

Quote from How To Plan Your Writing Life - How To Write the Future, Bright Orange background with a picture of a woman writing

How To Plan Your Writing Life – How To Write the Future podcast, episode 78

“So for 2024, what is your big heart goal? If you can have anything that you want, and there you are on December 31st, 2024. And you’re looking back over the year and you’re like, wow. I did it. What is that one thing above all, above everything? And come from the heart. Really come from a place of – what you truly desire. Because the world needs people who have deep desires, true desires, and act on those desires.”

In the first How To Write the Future episode of 2024, host Beth Barany shares insights into how to plan your writing life, what she loves about planning, and her philosophy around it, and asks you what your 2024 goals are and how you want to achieve them. Plus she invites you to support the show.

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About the How To Write the Future podcast 

The *How To Write The Future* podcast is for science fiction and fantasy writers who want to write positive futures and successfully bring those stories out into the marketplace. Hosted by Beth Barany, science fiction novelist and creativity coach for writers. We cover tips for fiction writers. This podcast is for readers too if you’re at all curious about the future of humanity.

This podcast is for you if you have questions like:

– How do I create a believable world for my science fiction story?

– How do figure what’s not working if my story feels flat?

– How do I make my story more interesting and alive?

This podcast is for readers too if you’re at all curious about the future of humanity.

Transcript for episode 78 – How To Plan Your Writing Life

Hello, everyone. Happy New Year. I’m Beth Barany your host of How To Write the Future podcast. I’m an Award-winning novelist. And what else am I? I am a writing teacher and a coach. And I run the podcast, How To Write The Future because.

Because when we vision what we want we actually help make it so.

All About Planning! 

This episode is all about planning. Not everybody likes to plan. I totally get it. And if you are one of those people who really prefers to be spontaneous, Awesome. 

There’s so much power in that. I love being spontaneous and I actually really love to plan.

And when I don’t have things planned out, I actually feel ungrounded. I feel out of control. I feel. Like I’m missing something. And I also know what it’s like to feel ungrounded and out of control and like I’m missing something. I feel like I spend half of my time, like that. And when I plan. I feel so much better.

My Philosophy about Planning

A little bit about my philosophy of planning and then a few tips to offer you if you want some tips on planning as a writer, as a creative. And that’s where I’m coming from.

I have my hat, my writing teacher hat on my right creativity coach hat on, and I’m an NLP practitioner, a certified NLP practitioner. And I have that hat on as well.

I’ve been using planning tools for a really long time of various kinds, both, in my business life and in my personal life. And I really remember using, plans. I called them game plans when I was 17 in high school, senior year in high school, up in Santa Rosa, California, and I wanted to ace all my classes. Which I did.

And I did that. Because I set up game plans. That’s what I called them then. And that was the first time I really remember being very planning-oriented.

I love planning so much. I even have a book for fiction writers called Plan Your Novel, Like a Pro that I co-wrote with my husband Ezra Barany. Go check that out if you want tips on planning your novel.

What I Love About Planning

So, what I love about planning.

Planning is like- how are we going to get from San Francisco to New York?

Well, you could make that decision every day of the trip, if you’re driving.

Or you could take some time and decide, oh, I want to take the Northern route across the United States.

Or I want to take the Southern route or the middle of the route, middle of the country? Or no, I don’t want to drive. I want to fly or no, like my husband did over Thanksgiving recently.

He’s like, let’s take a train. So he took a train. I did not. I flew across the country. He took a train with his mother and they had a great time. Took them three days.

So my point is when you think about where you want to go, and you think about how you want to get there. And you spend some time on those two things. That’s planning.

What is Your Big Heart Goal? 

So for 2024, what is your big heart goal?

Like, if you can have anything that you wanted, and there you are on December 31st, 2024. And you’re looking back over the year and you’re like, wow. I did it.

What is that one thing above all, above everything? And come from the heart. Really come from a place of – what you truly desire.

Because the world needs people who have deep desires, true desires, and act on those desires.

Now I’m coming from a place of being a creative. So I’m assuming your desires about doing something creative.

I help fiction writers. I help science fiction and fantasy writers. So if you’re listening to this, you are probably a science fiction or fantasy writer. And in which case, where would you like your book to be by the end of 2024?

Just feel into that.

Now, when I feel into that, I would like to have book five done and published, and I’m like holding that book. It’s gonna be a big book. It’s going to have some kind of variety of blue on the cover probably, because of the working title. Which I will reveal at some later date. Involves the word blue. And I’ll just be so incredibly proud and excited that book five is out and I’m working on book six already in the early stages.

And I have a few other projects.

And of course, you, if you’re a creative, you probably have a few projects.

So now write the next one down and the next one and the next one.

You may notice that some of these projects you think you can do. Some you don’t know if you could do. Some you’re like, nah, that’s impossible.

That’s okay.

Write Down Your Deepest Desires 

Write it all down.

First, you write it down. Then you cull your list.

I notice I’m a pretty practical bend, but even I will put things 12 months out and it’s unreasonable, but I don’t care because I want to keep an eye on it. And I’m like, miracles can happen.

Maybe, maybe that big thing can get done.

But I’ve also been working long enough as a novelist to know that what I can and cannot do. And I’m not always right.

So pick that one big audacious goal for the end of 2024.

I realize that I am giving you some tips, but I also want to share with you a little bit about my process too. Not so that you have to do it my way. There’s so many ways to plan. Oh my goodness. Everyone’s offering workshops in how to do it.

So, you may want to bring in lots of different ways to find what works for you. I’m not here to teach you today a process. I am just inviting you to start visioning for what you want.

So, think about your goal and how you want to get there.

How To Achieve Your Goal 

So let’s talk about how you want to get there.

When it comes to writing fiction, editing marketing, publishing all of it. something I invite you to think about is who is going to be walking the path with you- friends, critique partners. Are you taking a class? Are you working with a coach? Are you working with an editor?

Are you following along peoples social media channels to, to be alongside with them?

Like your buddies, your cohorts.

So, what is your support for the year?

Your Writing Environment and Routine 

Also think about when you think about how you’re going to get there, as a writer, we sit down and we write.

So, is your writing environment the way you want it?

Do you have a place where you can write?

Do you have a routine?

Do you need to establish a routine for writing?

It’s our daily behaviors that allow us to be writers. So you need to create a daily routine that works for you. Do you need to tweak that daily routine?

You know what? It doesn’t have to be every day. It can be one day a week if you’re just starting out and you’re just building the practice, the muscle. It could be two days a week.

I write about four to six days a week. Like normally it’s four days a week. And then when I’m ramping up toward a deadline, it usually goes up to six days a week. I don’t write every day and I don’t give myself crap for not writing every day, either.

If I happen to skip a day because something happened, I got distracted or I got excited about another project that I put at the same time I normally work on my book. 

That’s okay. Because in the aggregate, in the long run, if you stick with it, you’re going to get it done.


So we talked about support- is how we get there, daily practice, routine is how we get there. And milestones.

I don’t think in 12 months chunks.

I actually think in daily, weekly, monthly, and three-month chunks. And then I put the big goal out there at the end of the year, but I don’t really think about- I don’t worry about my behaviors beyond this week.

And I really don’t worry about it beyond today.

So all my job today is to go and work on my book. That’s it. And then tomorrow will be the new today. And then I’m like, okay. My job today is to work on my book.

So that’s why the routines are important, but it’s great to have milestones. Really, really great.

So you can set up a daily- I have a daily milestone I usually have about a monthly, or sometimes it’s every six weeks a milestone. And then sometimes it’s at a three-month point.

So it depends on the project.

If you’re in the planning phase, I would say, give yourself a month to plan.

If you’re in the writing phase, put a container around that. Maybe it’ll take you a year to write the first draft. Maybe you want to give yourself six months or three months, or maybe you want to try NaNoWriMo, National Novel Writing Month.

And see what you could create in one month They have Camp Nano in April and June, or is it July? I can’t remember. There’s other times of the year besides November that there are these challenges, if you want to do it in the company of the NaNoWriMo community,

So milestones were really great.

If you’re in the editing phase, like, as I record this, I’m still in the editing phase, then I give myself usually six weeks, two months. I can get a lot done in that frame I’ve noticed. And then I kind of, I go through the book. Oh, two months have passed. 

Okay, great.

Let’s do another two months to do another pass. All right. Okay. Oh, yeah, let’s do another two months to do the next pass. I’m on my third pass as I record this at the end of December 2023.

And then I’m going to give my book to beta readers at the beginning, around now, by the time you’re listening to this.

Hopefully, I will soon within the week be giving my book to beta readers. Then I’ll have a break. Maybe a week, maybe two weeks, maybe three weeks. And then when I get the book back, I will give myself probably three months.

So that’s a milestone.

By the end of March, maybe of 2024, I will hopefully have gone through all those edits. And then I will evaluate, cause by then the next things need to happen. Like book cover, like what am I going to do for promotions? And I start thinking about the second quarter and the third quarter of the year.

So I don’t always create milestones until I’m finishing one up.

So don’t worry if you aren’t sure.

If you’ve never written a novel, highly recommend you give yourself at least a year. 

Or two or three. Take it year by year. It took me five years to write my first novel, just so you know. My second novel took me six weeks.

So, there can be a slow long learning curve at the beginning. And that’s totally fine.

Take the time you need to learn the habits of writing fiction, because for most of us, we’re not taught in school how to write fiction. It doesn’t necessarily come naturally, especially because our educational systems are focusing on other skillsets- essay writing, argumentative writing- whatever else you’re working on.

If you’re in the quantitative fields, there’s all of that. If you’re in writing thesis oriented work. It’s all of that.

Or if you don’t have a lot of writing experience, then it’s just like learning, like what is a sentence and how do I put words together?

There’s a lot that goes into being a fiction writer. So be compassionate and patient with yourself and just create a daily writing habit, because that is what you need to write a book.

To sum up

So we talked about setting a big audacious goal. We talked about how are you going to get there? You’re going to have some kind of support. You’re going to have milestones. You’re going to have a daily ritual daily habit. And that is the main aspects of being able to write a book. There is obviously a lot of detail that I skipped over.

Let’s Talk! 

And if you want to have a conversation with me about what those things are, reach out. I’m available on all the socials.

And just so you all know, I offer a mastermind program for people who have completed their first draft and are science fiction and fantasy writers, and now they want to learn how to edit, market, and publish their novel. I have a 12 month program for that.

So, if you’re curious about that, check out the show notes. You can also just go to Coaching dot Beth to see that program.

Now what if you would like some other kinds of support from me?

Well, I offer customized coaching packages for folks who are serious about getting support from a coach like me. And just reach out to me and we can have a conversation. We get on zoom, we get on the phone, we talk about it and see what is a good fit for you.

What else?

I have books and I have my podcast, my blog. Oh, my gosh, I have so much content out there in the world.

If you are somebody who would like to support someone like me, but you’re not ready for the mastermind.

I invite your support!

And maybe you’re actually not even interested in writing a novel, then I invite you to support me because I have a big mission.

My mission is to help people revision what our future of humanity could be like. And I’m doing that primarily through story.

So I think that is the most powerful medium. We all think in story.

So, if you would like to buy me a coffee, you’ll see the link in the show notes on how to do that. And donate to the cause that I have.

And I also want to tell you that anybody, I am serious, anybody who’s serious about wanting to write fiction, you can do it. You need perseverance. And you need to be willing to.

Go deep. Go deep into your heart.

Be curious about the world. Be always learning.

And if you’re listening to me from anywhere around the world and you would like help and tips, please reach out. I’m happy to help folks through a DM or an email. I have tons of ready-made advice for you.

If you don’t know how to wade through all this advice, or you’re like, oh my gosh, your blog, you have so much stuff. Just reach out and I’ll point you in the right direction. I want to help everybody who wants to write science fiction and fantasy -everybody.

And if you don’t have the means to spend any money, there are so many amazing resources out there. I’m happy to point you in the right direction.

It’s thrilling the age we live in. It’s scary. It’s overwhelming. It’s frankly amazing. And there’s so much more choice today that many of us have. Let’s exercise that choice.

Let’s create stories that remake the world for the betterment of everybody. So that’s my mission, everyone.

If you want to get on board, like, subscribe, support me, buy a coffee.

And another way that you can help me is tell your friends about this podcast. Tell your friends about my books, my fiction, my nonfiction. Spread the word.

That means the world to me.

All right, everyone Happy New Year. Happy 2024! So weird saying that because I am recording this in 2023, but I’ve just now went into the future. And I said, Happy New Year. And take care of everyone.

Write long and prosper.

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Image of Beth BaranyBeth Barany teaches science fiction and fantasy novelists how to write, edit, and publish their books as a coach, teacher, consultant, and developmental editor. She’s an award-winning fantasy and science fiction novelist and runs the podcast, “How To Write The Future.”


Learn more about Beth Barany at these sites: 


Author siteCoaching site / School of Fiction / Writer’s Fun Zone blog



Contact Beth:












SHOW NOTES by Kerry-Ann McDade


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