Creating an Editorial Calendar

In last week’s post I made the case for an editorial calendar. In that post I told you that having an editorial calendar would help save us from the blank page (whatever the “blank page” is for you). I also told you that I didn’t currently have one. Which seems like a bad thing if I’m trying to make a case for it, right?

I thought it might be best if I took my own advice.

So I took some time this week to create an editorial calendar of my own and I thought that I would show you what it looks like. As a bonus, you’ll get a pretty accurate sneak peek into what I’ll be writing about over the coming weeks.

What exactly is an editorial calendar?

Now, before we get to the actual calendar I wanted to take a little time to explain what an editorial calendar is and how you can go about creating your own.

Wikipedia tells us a little about editorial calendars:

Editorial calendars are used to define and control the process of creating content, from idea through writing and publication.

Simply put, an editorial calendar is just a list of what you’re going to do and when you’re going to do it by. Typically it’s used in publishing content (like this blog) but I don’t think you have to pigeonhole it to just publishing content. You could really use it for just about any creative endeavor you have.

In my case, I will use my editorial calendar in the traditional sense. It is just a simple list of what I’m going to write and when I will publish it. This should make writing easier for me because I’ll know from the very start the subject that I’ll be hitting on that week. Then it’s just a matter of sitting down and writing. No more “What am I going to write about this week?” The question has already been answered.

For you, this might not look like writing. For all you Comic-Con goers out there, this could be a list of which cosplay projects you want to create and when they need to be done by.

Or … maybe it’s a list of all the school projects that you have to do and when they are due. Like a master syllabus. It’s not as much fun but … getting it all out in a list might prove helpful for you.

How would I create one?

The editorial calendar itself doesn’t need to be complicated. Seriously, it could just be a list on paper that you put somewhere in front of you where you can see it. In fact, I’d almost suggest that you start out that way. In order to create your calendar you will obviously need to set aside some time to think through what you’re going to do, so maybe just take some notes on paper first. What you do with those notes then is up to you.

This can end up being as simple or as fancy as you would like it to be. Like I said, paper is one option but you should do whatever is going to work for you. You could use a note app on your phone or computer. You could make a spreadsheet and get super detailed with the columns, right? As a writer, you could include the article title, the date it’s due, a checkbox indicating whether or not you published it, a link to where that article lives, etc. If that’s what works for you, have at it.

Also feel the freedom to be as specific or non-specific as you wish. For the writers (or want-to-be writers) as you think through what you’re going to publish some of you might come up with article titles right away. Some of you will just have a general topic in mind. Others of you will only know that in this space for this week I know I want to write this type of article. And all of those are fine. Remember, this is for you, to help you write without the fear of a blank page. As you’ll see in my editorial calendar in a little bit, I have a little bit of all of those types of things. This allows me to focus in when I need to, and to allow God to do a little bit of whatever He wants to do when He wants to.

That brings up another point. This is your list based on what you think should go in those spaces. But leave room for God to do what He wants to do in your space. If you get to a week and you have a specific topic in mind (because you made a calendar 💥) but you feel like God wants you to write something else when you sit down to write then by all means write something else. This list isn’t written in stone. If it needs to change, feel free to change it.

At the end of the day, you have to do what works for you. If it’s simple, go with that. If it’s complex, that works too. I’d suggest you start out simple and work toward complex over time and only when you need it but … you do you.

For me, it’s just going to be a note in my notes app. That way it syncs to my phone and my computer and I can work on my writing no matter where I am.

My editorial calendar

So without further ado, starting with this post, here is my editorial calendar in all it’s glory:

  • 09.18: My Editorial Calendar
  • 09.25: A Seven Week Cutting Program
  • 10.02: First Thoughts on iOS 14
  • 10.09: A Small Story is No Story At All. Thoughts on being comfortable.
  • 10.16: Letting Go. What life has been like since my son started college.
  • 10.23: A devotional of some kind
  • 10.30: The Powder Mage Trilogy Book Series Review
  • 11.06: The Power of Habit and Routine
  • 11.13: Results from LIIFT 4 / 10 Rounds Hybrid

Like I said, it’s just a list and a due date. Nothing more. It’s subject to change on a whim. It’s gives me a base to work from and that’s what I need.

I can already tell the difference having this calendar is making. Just knowing that I was going to write about my editorial calendar this week made writing so much easier.

I also took my other piece of advice and have been writing every day this week. The consistent writing schedule along with the editorial calendar have given my writing new life. Here’s to continuing and refining this as the weeks go on.

The Cure for the Blank Page

A.K.A. The Case for an Editorial Calendar

I’ve struggled with what to write here lately.

I’m not sure if you can tell from my writing, but, full disclosure, I’ve been writing a lot of these blog posts on the day I publish them. Each piece gets written once and that’s about it. Sometimes a post will get a second look over as I’m publishing it to make sure that it all looks good on the screen but that’s about as far as it goes.

I apologize. It doesn’t make for very good writing. You deserve better than that.

I think there are 2 things that I’ve been missing lately which has caused this to happen.

A Time and Place

The first is a designated time and place for writing every day. I just don’t make the time on a regular basis to sit down and write. Doing all my writing on the day that the post needs to go up means that what you end up reading is a glorified first draft. And we all know that we’re supposed to write crappy first drafts and then make it better from there.

You shouldn’t be reading first drafts. You should be reading third or fourth drafts. Ideas that have been written about, and then written about again, and then clarified and written about again. The editing process is where the writing should come alive. You’ve just been getting the undead, zombie-like first draft version. The version that no one should ever read. Again, I apologize.

An Editorial Calendar

The second thing that I’ve been missing is an editorial calendar. This is something that tells me what to write about on any given week. It can be as simple as a list of topics and when they will get published. It doesn’t have to be hard to create or extremely detailed. It just takes setting aside a little time. When you’re done, you’ll be all prepped with ideas for what to write when you need them.

I feel like one of the problems I have is that when I sit down to write I don’t have much to say. Or maybe it’s too much to say. Without a plan, the whole world of options is available to me and it’s overwhelming. What’s the one thing that I want to pass along this week? Out of all the things I could write about, what is the one nugget of information that I feel like would be beneficial to write about for my readers this week? Picking out just one thing to pass along is hard so I tend to end up just staring at the blank screen not knowing where to start. The cursor taunting me as it blinks away. On, off, on, off. And since I’ve waited until the day the post is due I now have the anxiety and pressure of having to come up with something, anything, that might be even a little bit compelling.

An editorial calendar would solve all of that. Deciding ahead of time what I am going to write about every week means that I don’t have to think about it. There is no question what I will write about during my writing time on any given day. Since I already have a topic, all I have to do is to sit down and write.

This could work for you too. If you have a creative pursuit (hint: it doesn’t have to be writing) and you’re struggling with what to do at any given time, maybe try giving yourself a head start. Decide ahead of time what you will work on in your creative time. It may just be the boost you need to jump start your creative juices and save you from the dreaded “blank page” of your creative endeavor.

Also, if you’re struggling for ideas, check out this video by Sean McCabe: 5 Months of Content in 5 Minutes.

23

I am not much of a poet. But I wrote this for Heather because it’s our wedding anniversary this weekend. Gosh I love that lady.

Peaches
In heavy syrup
Nah, just kidding
That’s awkward

Five foot three
And three-quarters
Short hair
Don’t care

Lilac
Cherry Blossom
Succulent
Hufflepuff

Hummingbirds
Deer in our yard
Snakes in our shed
Mouse in our house (Eek!)

2 kids
Trae and Aiden
When did they grow up?
The best gifts from God

Tacos
Brisket
Brisket Tacos!
Spicy

Hockey
Football
UFC
I am blessed

The king returns
Han shot first
Jason Bourne
The nose plays 😉

Wonder Woman
Cosplay
Superhero
Is what you are

Beautiful
My darling
My favorite
Baby

Life with you
From that first day until now
Is the best life
Beyond my imagination

Hard times
Fun times
Some times
Messy

Every time
For all time
Without question
I choose you

Grateful
Thankful
Hopeful
Is how I feel when I see your face

The best part of my day
Healing power and resting place
I feel at home
In your arms

Happy anniversary
Half my life
Spent married to you
Literally

Best decision
Would do again
Would recommend
10/10

Happy anniversary my beautiful lady!

What Would You Do?

I have a question for you today:

If you could do anything in the world and all the bills were paid, what would you do?

This is such a tough question for me. I feel like there are so many things that I would or could do if I didn’t have to have a full-time job every day. There’s definitely not just one thing. Here’s a short list of some things I think I’d do.

I want to think that I would write more. Not for money, but for the love of writing whatever I wanted to write. I’m imagining that doing so would free up my words and that I actually would make money from them. But the fact that I wouldn’t have to make money from them is freeing.

I think I’d keep on writing code. I’ve been a developer since I was young. I can’t imagine that stopping now.

I also want to read more. Over the past few years I’ve started to pick up the habit of reading and I’ve been enjoying it. At first it was all non-fiction “get better at your life” kinds of books but lately it’s been more fiction. I will say the one problem I have with reading books is that when I read I get sleepy. So maybe I’d also take more naps?

I feel like I would (or could) make more time to exercise. During this “health year” I’ve gotten into a pretty good groove with exercising regularly and, while I haven’t fallen in love with it yet, I’m starting to appreciate some of the results I’m seeing. I generally like feeling better overall. I’d like to think that I’d at least continue the trend if not make it even a more important part of my life. Perhaps I shouldn’t be so optimistic about that, but I am.

I would spend time outside, particularly in the fall. I love the fall weather. As I sit here looking at my yard, I wish I would take better care of it. It’s had the feeling of fall in the air a bit lately … and I’m starting to see ads for pumpkin spice things, so I’m starting to think about being outside. Cool air, fires in the fire pit, roasting marshmallows.

I’d travel with my family to some places that we’ve always wanted to see. We’d take our time doing it too. “Let’s go see all the things in the two weeks I get off for vacation every year” would be a thing of the past. I’d love to buy an RV and just go travel everywhere. I love my family and want to spend as much time with them as possible. Getting out on the road with them, having adventures together, that sounds like an amazing thing to do.

I’d find some way to give back. It’s not all about me or even really at ALL about me. There are people that need so much help. How can I help?

I think of all the things I mentioned, traveling around the country with my family and writing more would top the list. But honestly, just having the time (and money) to do whatever God wants me to do whenever God wants me to do it, wherever He might want me to go is a huge deal. I think that’s what I’d most want to do.

What about you? What would you do?

Reach Your Goals

I’ve been thinking a lot about processes lately. The way things are done. Routines to help make things better for myself, my team, and others around me.

I love a good process. I can get lost in routine. I’ve learned that if I want to get anything done well, I need a habit to make it happen.

Eating healthy foods is one example. When I’m at home and I am surrounded my mostly healthy foods I make mostly healthy choices. I have set times when I eat and I know what I’m eating at those times. It’s a pretty well-oiled machine and it is part of what is helping me during my “Health Year.”

On the other hand, when I go to work in the office it’s a different story. For example, most of the days this week I went into the office. We had a virtual conference 2 of the days and a third day we had an All Staff event. Each of those days included lunch being brought in or going out to eat. Even when we don’t have events there are many times where there is just other food laying out for me to grab if I want it. None of which is really beneficial to me or fits my health goals.

Now, there is something to be said for my lack of impulse control. I can fully own that.

There is also something to be said for environment. If the environment you’re in doesn’t promote healthy eating then you’ll have a hard time staying on top of your desire to eat healthy foods. The environment you’re in matters.

But we’re talking about processes here. When I go into work at the office it throws off the processes that I’ve carefully built over time and that are working so well for me. It’s easy for the routine I’ve set up for myself to get unbalanced. I’ll have a meeting when I’m supposed to be eating and that throws off my meal timing. Or I didn’t prepare my meals ahead of time so I am a lot more tempted to eat the things that aren’t good for me.

This is why it’s so important for me to have my meals timed right and to know in advance what I’m going to eat. If I prepare in advance and eat when I am supposed to then I make sure that I am satisfied and I don’t over indulge as often.

It’s the “going-to-the-supermarket-when-you’re-hungry” conundrum, right? You will almost always buy more than you planned on buying, and buy more not-good-for-you foods if you go to the grocery store when you’re hungry then when you’re not. There’s probably a study that proves that I would bet.

Anyway, back to processes. James Clear says in the book Atomic Habits that “you don’t rise to the level of your goals, you fall to the level of your systems.” So what you plan for, the processes you put in place, have everything to do with you being successful in meeting or exceeding your goals. It’s not the goals themselves, it’s the things behind the scenes that you put in place to help you achieve your goals that really matters.

Take a minute to think about your goals. Are you succeeding in meeting them? If so, it’s probably because you have a system in place that is helping you. Reaching a goal doesn’t happen on accident.

On the flip side, are you failing in meeting your goals? Take a look at the system (or lack thereof) you have in place. That system is probably letting you down somewhere.

At the end of the day, I know that I eat better and more healthy choices when I follow my plan of eating roughly the same things at the same time every day. It’s my system. When I get off that system things go south really quick.

The same is true for any goal or anything you want to accomplish. If you’re not succeeding in reaching your goals, get a better system or follow the system you already have in place. Give it time to do it’s job. I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised with the results.

Advice to My Son as He Enters College

My son,

This coming week you will start college. How surreal is that?

Everybody always says it and I hate that it’s true but … where has the time gone?

It seems like just last month you were this little guy that I could literally hold with one arm.

I swear it was just a couple weeks ago that we were in our apartment in Macon and we were wrestling and tackling each other while playing football in our living room. “Look how close you are to that touchdown.” All you wanted to do was to see the replays.

I feel like it was just last week that you were getting into superheroes and Star Wars and we were having light saber battles and you would call that same dumb play in the college football video game and freaking score every time.

It was pretty much just yesterday in my mind that you were in your first play at CLT where you fell in love with acting. It was the catalyst that leads you to where you are today.

This is not just a letter of reminiscing, although I suppose you’ll forgive me for doing a little bit of that. This is a time to call you forward. This is another step in your journey to manhood. Further up and further in.

This is your next giant to slay. Your next lion to kill.

College is a time for you to really dig into who (and whose) you are and to figure out all the things life has to offer. It is a time for you to make decisions for yourself. For the most part, this is the time in your life where you will take the foundation that we’ve laid for you and start to build on it. When our ceiling becomes your floor. That doesn’t mean that you have to go out on your own or figure it all out by yourself. We’re still here for you and will, for as long as we can, continue to help you understand your world.

Let me start here.

I want you to know that I truly believe in you and what you’re doing. I know that you are called to do this. You are meant to be at this school, doing what you’re doing. Right here, right now. You’re meant to be an actor. I’ve seen God do too many things and work this out in too many ways for me to think it’s all just an accident. This is what you are meant to do and I am excited to see what you do with it.

All that being said, here are some things that I want to leave you with as you move forward into this next stage of your life. Hopefully you’ll find wisdom in some of these words.

Jesus first, Jesus always

First and foremost always rely on God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit. Always, always, always.

This is a time of great exploration for you. That’s how it should be. But … don’t forget your foundation.

God created you, Jesus died for you, and the Holy Spirit lives in you to guide and direct you. You will know the right thing to do because God knows the right thing for you to do.

If you listen to Jesus and do what He says, you’re gonna be okay.

Take part in all the things

Avoid the “man I wish I would have’s”.

There are so many things going on in college. Maybe they will look a little different in this COVID-19 world, but I know your school is doing all it can to make your first year as “normal” as possible.

Know your limits, for sure. Realize when you need to pull back and re-energize. But also, lean in and participate in as much as you can. Go to the events, the ceremonies, and the get-togethers. You most likely won’t ever get the chance to do college like this ever again. You don’t want to look back later and wish you had done more.

It’s not what you know, it’s who you know

You know this eternal truth already.

You have the opportunity to get to know some pretty awesome people who want to get to know you. Your professors, others in the departments you’re a part of, and people that you meet in organizations around campus. These are people who want to help you and are willing to work with you. Take advantage of that.

Be there when the doors open and leave when they close. Go to your professors office hours and get to know them personally. Get as much information as you can from as many people as you can.

This will only help you in the future.

Be curious

Ask questions. Better yet … ask hard questions. Be inquisitive. Learn all you can about the subjects you’re learning about … especially as it relates to acting. Even in the subjects that don’t relate directly to acting find a way to make them relate. That will help keep you interested and motivated to learn.

Take the time to learn how to learn and then learn all you can.

Take it seriously.

This whole college thing is a really big deal.

You’re paying for this education. This education is supposed to prepare you for your future. This isn’t a game.

Work harder than you’ve ever worked before. Give this your utmost attention and effort. You won’t ever regret the things that you work hard for.

This will not be easy but it’s completely worth it. Give it everything you’ve got.

Have fun!

Because it can’t be all work all the time, right?

You’re in that wonderful time where you’re like half adult-ing and half kid-ing. You have responsibilities that you have to own, but you don’t really have that many responsibilities.

Enjoy your time. Make new friends and explore your world. College might be a lot of hard work but you can have fun while working hard. Find that balance.

I love you, son.

I hope that me saying that isn’t embarrassing for you.

I love you and I’m proud of you. I’m proud of the man you are becoming.

College will test you. It’s supposed to. Like I said, it’s a lion for you to slay. Remember, gold is purified in the fire.

You’re a smart dude and you’ll figure this all out. I want you to know that I’m here for when you have questions (and you will have questions). Just because you’re going to college doesn’t mean that I’m done being your dad.

I love you champ,

Dad

To anyone else reading this, here’s my shameless plug: If you’re hiring actors, give my son a call. He’s the guy you want.