The Benefits of Working Ahead

Good morning story Empire readers, PH here with you today and wishing you a good week. We are already well into the year and before we know it summer will be upon us and the last half of the year after that. It seems like things move very quickly these days and that’s because we tend to stay so busy we rarely stop to look around – at least until recent months. Looking ahead with a plan is how I want to operate as a writer but it’s easy to bog down in overwhelming details and see the way forward is important. One of the ways that I trying to clear more time to write and relax this year is by working ahead. It’s like seeing through binoculars.

Believe it or not, this is one of the last blogs I’ll write this year. No, I’m not leaving Story Empire or going on a break from writing posts. Instead, I’ve worked well ahead of the schedule in an effort to finish my blogging for the year. No, this isn’t a brag about how much I’ve done, but more of a descriptive valuation for working ahead.

I’m like many other people and seem to often feel like a pinball, bouncing around from bumper to bumper. From early 2018 until about midway through 2019, I had some health problems that left me very low energy and I was getting little to nothing done each day. The exhaustion kept me from getting blog posts completed ahead of time, and I like to work ahead. Once I began feeling better, I dug my way out of the hole and it took some months, but things have been much better.

There’s also something to be said for a new year. With the coming of January, I endeavored to begin working more consistently with my writing. But there were a lot of other constraints and demands on my time, namely a very busy job and working on my marketing as well as blogging. I quickly determined that I needed to continue dictating and decided that doing anything was better than nothing. Soon I began composing posts ahead of schedule getting up to three drafts completed each day during my commutes.

I’m not just seeing the praises of dictation, but rather the value of working ahead. In coming to the close of my blogging year, I’m clearing out quite a lot of work to do and can begin focusing on other writing tasks for the rest of the year. Working that far ahead clears my mind and gives me the opportunity to work on my own blog campaign for the entire year as well. Likewise, I suddenly find that I have more head-space for content editing my current book and completing world building. One of the reasons is that I’m not concerned about certain tasks like blogging so much that I become worried and stuck. My vision for what I’m doing is far clearer by accomplishing so much with already this year.

The mind has a lot of required tasks that slowly begin to freeze up your ability to be productive. Working to complete some of those allows you to have more space to think and act so it’s good to complete as much as possible. For me, the ability to dictate blog posts well ahead of schedule creates a lot more margin in my day and allows me to arrive at a place where I don’t have to continually concern myself with those tasks. I will continue to dictate blog posts throughout the year, but those will simply put me further ahead into next year.

My goals for early in the year have been to complete blocks of planning and writing that are repetitive so that I can clear more time for working on my fiction. This means I’m finishing up all of my blog posts for Story Empire, and move onto my own site blogs and work to plan that ahead as much as possible. I won’t complete everything for my site because I’m leaving space for progress reports, but I can begin to write creative blog posts for my upcoming releases and at least have those drafts semi-prepared to post on a regular basis.

Beyond this blogging work, I can also plan my newsletter campaign for the entire year and even schedule those so that I don’t have much to worry about from this side of my writing. Some of those newsletter additions will require current input at various times as I release a book, but the more I’ve written ahead the easier that is to accomplish.

Additionally I can plan the marketing campaign for the rest of my year and easily schedule what I’m going to do for each month and accomplish these time consuming tasks. With dictation as a primary tool, I can accomplish a lot on my commutes that frees me up otherwise and clears all of those necessities for more consistent attention to my fiction. I can also planned for 2021 when it gets later in the year and complete those plans before the beginning or end of the year.

Dictation and working ahead for me go hand in hand and creates a sense of productivity like I’ve never been able to accomplish previously. Of course, good health and feeling energetic are also important to continuing to progressing consistently. Working ahead also gives me the opportunity to set things aside more regularly so that I don’t become exhausted which can also affect my health.

Now it’s your turn to weigh-in on the topic. What ways can you create margin in your life so that you don’t feel overworked? In what ways can you work ahead to also create more margin for completing your fiction writing?

Thanks for stopping by and reading this post on Story Empire today. If you have enjoyed or found this post informative, please share it on your social media or re-blog it with your readers. Please leave your answers and thoughts in the comments section and I will reply as soon as I’m able.

P.H. Solomon

31 thoughts on “The Benefits of Working Ahead

  1. I am not great at working ahead, PH. I tend to work to a bit of a last minute schedule with everything but a lot of that is because I take on way to much. Working from home has been nice because I can do two things at once now so I can do my fondant art and how to make posts and videos while sitting on conference call. I always doodle and draw anyway so it is nice to be able to do more constructive things during this time. I can’t focus unless my hands are busy. I rarely prepare posts in advance although I do write book reviews as quickly as possible after finishing a book. That makes my book review posts easy to prepare.

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  2. Great post! My good intentions turn to dust in the forward plan department. I wish it were different but I have learned that my comfort zone is stictly flying by the seat of my pants. (Not a good look! 🙄

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  3. I haven’t tried dictation, but often thought about it. Do you have a particular dictation software you find helpful?

    I am never ahead. I am always scrambling to keep up. Maybe after things calm down, I can forge ahead. Good post, P.H.

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  4. I try to work ahead with blogging, both on Story Empire and my own site, which seems to lift some mental pressure and allows me more freedom of time for fiction. Even with that though, it seems I am always scrambling to keep up. Working ahead is great. I just wish I could do more of it!

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  5. I think planning ahead is always a good idea, though I’ve learned there’s a reason for the old saying “the best laid plans of mice and men …” as things in my life tend to “aft gang agley” (often go astray, for those unfamiliar with Burns) in the blink of an eye. I suspect that’s true of many of us who thought we knew what we’d be working on in 2020, and have found ourselves knee deep in this quagmire.

    I prefer to plan my blog posts about a month ahead, because I find I frequently need to change them in order to stay somewhat current. But I do like to get at least that far ahead, as it means, like you, I can then concentrate on other things, such as writing. I could never dictate an entire blog post, though, or any major part of my WIP, either, largely because no dictation software I’ve ever tried speaks Southernese. 😀 I can’t even get through a brief text without having to manually make repeated corrections to the mangled phrases that pop up as I dictate. Apparently, I have a drawl that turns each word into three others, and sometimes results in horrifying phrases. 😯 So for the time being, I’m sticking to my keyboard.

    All that being said, I can see why dictation is working well for you, Paul, and I’m glad you’ve found a way to make good use of your time. I’m sure many others can benefit from how you’ve tackled this common writing problem. I’m blessed that I don’t have any other job, and double-blessed that I don’t have a long commute to and from a workplace, so my time management is less tricky than yours, for sure. Great post! Sharing! 🙂

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    • There’s a feature in Dragon for choosing accents for where you live/grew up. Also I’m getting into accuracy with Dragon in upcoming posts. My blogging is accurate but fiction is more tricky, which is the subject of my blog and a current background project. Personally, I want to clear as much as I can for margin to work on writing projects. Most of my topics aren’t timely in nature so that helps work far ahead. My personal blog is different and I won’t be able to work that far ahead.

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      • I’ll check out Dragon, though I only dictate in a pinch for my books, because I need to see the words in front of me to write fiction. I do play them back aloud every couple of paragraphs, though. That helps me spot not only errors, but writing that isn’t as rhythmic as I like. Thanks for the recommendation, though. I never rule out anything. Who knows? One day I might even start outlining. 😀

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  6. I do the same thing, only completely different. I’m never more than one blog post ahead, and on my own site, not even that. However, I do keep massive lists to do with characters, naming, story structure, blog tours and more. I also have storyboards or partial storyboards that will take me years into the future. In that way, it is very helpful.

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  7. I love to get ahead, but the last eight months have left me largely reactionary, and I still need to dig out of the hole I’m in. Dictation would be a huge time-saver (something I planned on incorporating this year), but I haven’t had any success with it. I need to get caught up just so I can work slower as I learn it. If I ever manage to do it, though, I can see it propelling me forward.

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  8. I tend to use the blips of free time to schedule blog posts. Think I’m mostly scheduled through mid-July at this point. There are the weekends ones that I leave alone because I have more time, but the week is where things get messy. Lately, I’ve taken to using weekdays for outlining future ideas and the weekends for actually writing. It really depends on what’s going on and my amount of energy.

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  9. If I’m intentional, I can do it. For instance, when I know I’m going to be dedicating a lot of time to writing fiction, I’ll plan both my personal and SE blog posts, then write and schedule them. After NaNoWriMo, lots happened (health problems in December, new things at work, etc.) I won’t even mention the dreaded word of what we’ve all been facing the past six weeks or so. My writing has lagged but I’m ready to get back in the groove. Just need to be intentional.

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