When I retired from teaching and moved to rural Kansas, I needed a routine in order to pursue my second vocation, freelance writing. Over the years I had saved enough pretty letterheads from rejections to decoupage two trashcans, but also published magazine pieces, two poetry chapbooks, and two middle-grade mysteries. In theory, with so much extra time at my disposal, it should be possible to submit even more manuscripts and widen my audience.
On the other hand, it was tempting to sleep late, take craft classes, read all the books on my bucket list, and make new friends in the community. If I wasn't careful, writing and writing-related activities would be squeezed out of my schedule. So, I bought a colorful, user-friendly planner and wrote the acronym POEMS down the left margin of each day for the coming week.
P = Promotion:
Whatever puts my name and book titles out there in the public eye. Update my web site. Post news and evites on Facebook. Contact a store or school. Print bookmarks.
O = Overarching:
Sentence by sentence, chapter by chapter, add new words to the current work-in-progress. Do background research. Plot. Create character bios. Ask "What If?"
E = Exercises:
Clustering. Word Association. Writers' group homework. Prompts from poetry. Pages in Write-Brain Workbook. Nature walks with pocket notebook.
M = Markets:
Read Writers Digest. Send for magazine samples and guidelines. Look at online
catalogs online. Browse children's shelves at the library. Mail mss and queries.
S = Scripture:
Meditate on Daily Bread devotional. Prepare Sunday school lesson. Jot ideas for themes to write on. Pray my writing will reflect God's truth and enrich readers' lives.
Whenever I complete a task, large or small, in any order, I check the appopriate category in my planner. An overview of the past week shows me which areas need more attention. Often these activities overlap with other areas of life. Over lunch with friends I pass out brochures for my next book signing (P). Reading for pleasure counts if related to my work-in-progress (O). Catnaps can be productive if I write down my dreams (E). In the doctor's waiting room I study Highlights magazine (M). God's Word informs my words and nourishes my soul (S).
This simple acronym silences the voices in my head that tell me I'm not a real writer!