The 12 Week Year for Writers
eBook - ePub

The 12 Week Year for Writers

A Comprehensive Guide to Getting Your Writing Done

A. Trevor Thrall, Brian P. Moran, Michael Lennington

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eBook - ePub

The 12 Week Year for Writers

A Comprehensive Guide to Getting Your Writing Done

A. Trevor Thrall, Brian P. Moran, Michael Lennington

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Get more words on the page with this proven and popular system

The 12 Week Year for Writers: A Comprehensive Guide to Getting Your Writing Done is an easy-to-implement and practical framework for writers to get more work done in less time. You'll answer big picture questions—What is my vision for the future? What are my writing goals?—while enacting a comprehensive system to plan and execute your writing.

You'll create a 12 Week Plan and a Model Week, collaborate with a weekly writing group, keep score, and learn to stick to a weekly execution routine. The book will also show you how to:

  • Manage multiple writing projects at the same time
  • Develop a prolific writer's mindset and increase your output with the 12 Week Year system
  • Deal with actionable specifics, like when and where to write

Ideal for writers in all genres and fields, The 12 Week Year for Writers is the perfect hands-on guide for academic and business writers, authors, students, columnists, bloggers, and copy and content writers who seek to increase their productivity and get more quality words on the page.

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The first step to creating a powerful writing system is to create a compelling vision for yourself.* Your vision is the most fundamental source of energy for your actions. A vibrant sense of the better future you're trying to build is the ultimate motivator. It is your reason for getting out of bed every day and for putting in the time at your desk. Anyone who has written anything longer than a grocery list knows that writing isn't always rainbows and unicorns. There are many days when your brain is fried, and the words flow like molasses. Knowing why you're writing and being excited about where your writing is taking you is what will keep you moving. On the flip side, if you don't have a strong vision, you aren't going to have the willpower to struggle through those inevitable times when you just don't want to do anything, much less write.
Another reason vision is so important is that dreaming big can help us push past our self-imposed limitations. In fact, the number one pitfall in the visioning process is that people tend to think too small. Great results come from big thinking. In the wonderful novel Nobody's Fool by Richard Russo, the main character, Sully, is a cranky old guy in his 70's who gets by doing odd jobs for an hourly wage with his 20-something buddy, Rub, whose favorite phrase is, “You know what I wisht?” You might imagine that Rub dreams big, but “The thing that always amazed Sully about Rub's wishes was that most of them were so modest.”1 Take a wild guess how things are going to go for Rub. It's hard not to predict that Rub's going to be stuck working odd jobs for the rest of his life. Dreaming big by itself doesn't promise big results, but dreaming small certainly promises little results. As Wayne Gretzky, the hockey great, wisely noted, “You miss 100% of the shots you don't take.”
A clear vision is also the first step in any planning process. Where do you see your writing taking you? Do you want to finish your dissertation and publish it as a book? Do you hope to run a paid newsletter? Do you dream of creating a series of illustrated children's books? Even Google needs to know where you're going before it can tell you how to get there. If you don't know what you really want, how are you supposed to make a plan to get there? How will you know what needs doing next? To put it another way, if you don't have a clear vision of where you want to go, there isn't a plan good enough to get you there.
Another benefit of an effective vision is that it will force you to decide between the good and the good. The reality for all of us is that our time is limited. We simply cannot accomplish the full set of things that we are theoretically capable of in life. Dreaming big is the first step to accomplishing your biggest goals, but effective visioning is necessary to help us to focus on what matters most from the constellation of possibilities.
When you create your vision, prepare to confront your choices. There is a price for each choice we make; saying yes to one thing also means saying no to another. You may even choose not to write a book or to even become a writer for that matter. In that case, this book will pay for itself by helping you avoid wasting time, frustration, and lost opportunities.
My guess is that your vision will include your writing. In the next section I will show you how to build a vision that works for you.


Your vision should embody your hopes and dreams for your personal and professional lives. For most of us, those parts of our lives are intimately connected. It's hard to be happy in your professional life if you're not happy at home, with your family, your spiritual life, and so forth. And in the same way it is also difficult to achieve harmony in your personal life if your professional life is a slog. There are lots of ways to conduct “visioning,” but I recommend a simple four-step process:
  • - Craft your long-term, aspirational vision
  • - Craft your near-term vision, roughly one to three years into the future
  • - Craft your writing vision
  • - Identify your next writing project


Where do you hope to be ten or fifteen years from now? If you conjure up an image of your life after you've achieved everything you've dreamed of, what do you see? Don't restrict yourself to writing – think about everything in your life – personal, professional, spiritual, physical, whatever it might be. What are the most important things in your life? What do you want to be doing more of, and what don't you want to be doing anymore? What kind of future gets you excited? This is the time to think big – what does life look like in your wildest dreams? Don't worry about how practical those dreams are right now. Don't follow Rub's example and think small: doing that will keep you chained to the status quo. The journey from thinking something is impossible to doing it is a series of questions starting with, “What If?” Dreaming big things is the first step to doing big things.


Take five or ten minutes right now and make a list of everything you want to have, do, and be in fifteen years. Do you have a different job? Are you working for yourself? Are you living somewhere new? What sort of spiritual, physical, relationship, and professio...