Wednesday, February 15, 2017

A Pantser Finds Peace in Organization by Jodie Bailey

Even if you're one who approaches life and writing by the seat of your pants, you can set goals. Author Jodie Bailey shares her experience. -- Sandy

Jodie: Several years ago, there was a commercial for insurance that said, “Life comes at you fast.”  As I sit here at a borrowed desk in a back corner of my daughter’s school, trying to cram in some writing time, I can say that’s been my life lately.  Since January 1, it feels like everything has come from left and right to interfere with writing.  It would be crazy easy to let work slip into the background, then to look up in June and realize I’ve got nothing to show for six months.

The funny thing is, this is the first year I’ve actually worked at creating goals.

Yes, the dreaded G word.

Believe me. I know.  I’m not usually this organized.  I’m a “seat of the pants” chick in writing and in life. Goals? That’s too structured. Not for me.

Last year, I fell into a rhythm of doing what HAD to be done and nothing more.  My career sat still.  All of those ideas I had--revamp my website, write a new series, amp up marketing—had disappeared.  Sure, I’d met all of my deadlines for two years.  I had books coming out, but that was it. Growth? Nope.

So I called one of my best writing friends and said, “Let’s do this.” 

In December, we sat down and hashed out yearly goals.  I broke mine down monthly.  Every Monday, we talk to hold each other accountable.  I found a great planner at Spiffyway on Etsy. I have a “must do” list every week in order to stay on track, broken down by day.  Doctor’s appointment on Friday? Don’t put more than one or two quick things then.  Kiddo out of school on Tuesday? Keep it free or keep it light.

Far from feeling regimented, it’s great! Especially on days like today, when I lost two hours to random stuff nobody saw coming.  Instead of being frustrated, I looked at my list and found focus instead of fluster. 

Like this blog post.  I’m not home like I’d planned to work on my novel, and the interruptions here are many. I swapped this blog post for tomorrow with my word count goal for today and I’m still accomplishing work. (It’s probably a little sad how insanely happy this makes me.)

Even better? The stress is dropping. I no longer look at the mountain of stuff I have to do and jump into the middle on Monday, my brain screaming, “This must get done now!” One day at a time. And days off? They’re real. “There’s nothing on the list today, so go have some fun without thinking about work.” It’s been two years since that happened.

Think it’s too much? Try it for a month and see what happens. Prayerfully ask God what He wants then go for the list.  Trust me. This reformed “seat of the pants” girl is loving the ironic freedom that comes from structure.

How do you go about organizing your writing goals?


Jodie Bailey writes novels about freedom and the heroes who fight for it. Her romantic suspense, Crossfire, won a 2015 RT Reviewers Choice Award and her contemporary romance, Quilted by Christmas won a 2014 Selah. She is convinced a camping trip to the beach with her family, a good cup of coffee, and a great book can cure all ills. Jodie lives in North Carolina with her husband, her daughter, and two dogs. Visit her at,

Dead Run

Kristin James's morning run turns deadly when she's attacked by a stranger who's after something her deceased soldier brother stole overseas. Her neighbor Sergeant First Class Lucas Murphy steps in to help her and won't let her brush the attack under the rug. He'll do everything he can to keep Kristin alive, but he can't tell her that he's under orders to investigate her link to her brother's misdeeds. Kristin has no idea what the bad guy is after and doesn't want to believe that her brother wasn't on the straight and narrow. But as evidence against him piles up, can they catch the criminals without becoming the next casualties?


  1. Can you share a link for the planner? 😃

    1. Certainly! I changed two of the headings though. "Priorities" is where I put my crit partner's weekly goals and "To Do" list is where I put mine. I then break it d own by day on the checklist below and highlight the days I plan to work on each goal. Sounds like a lot of work but only takes me about five minutes each Monday morning.

  2. This week, I am going to make a specific schedule for my writing, reading and online activities(book clubs, book launches, etc.) That will definitely take the stress off of me. :-)

    1. It's amazing how freeing a schedule is. I can't believe I just said that...

  3. I'm using the Excel To-Do List to keep up with all the little things I need to take care of. I'm also using various calendar templates for things like marketing and blogging. It's also great for setting up a calendar for my WIP so I don't have a character doing something on August 5, when the last thing she did was on August 14. :) So far, it's working out well.

    1. Oh yes, story calendars are a MUST. :-) I need to work on a marketing calendar next. I'm missing out on things because I don't have a plan. Maybe I should put it on my schedule to make one.

  4. Jodie, thanks for sharing the link to the planner. I'm working at goal setting this year. I have mine broken out by quarter then month. But I'm finding I need even more of a breakout. Your plan sounds great.

    I love LIS books! And can't wait to read yours!


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