Looking Ahead by Allison Symes

There was only one topic for this post given its timing.

How can writers look ahead? Can you over-plan? Should you allow room for spontaneity? Answers on a postcard… 

Seriously, there are ways writers can look ahead.  

This kind of plan can help clear your thoughts. Pixabay image.

Yes, you can over-plan. 

Yes, you should allow room for spontaneity.

Does that sound like I’m trying to have my cake and eat it? Guilty. Why have cake if you’re not going to eat it?

Using deadlines, such as the end of a year, to review what you've achieved and work out what you would like to achieve in the next 12 months is a good idea.  Pixabay image.

Looking Ahead

Think about where you would like your writing to be a year from now.

Discard the dreams of winning the Booker. It’s unlikely.

Look back at what you achieved with your writing in the past year. 

Jotting down ideas of what you would like to achieve can help you make progress towards achieving them. Pixabay image.

Achievements can be anything from getting more work submitted to having your first publication acceptance to getting to grips with Zoom and taking part in online workshops for the first time. 

Achievements don’t have to be monumental. Have you done more with your writing this year? Written more regularly? Made more writer friends? Great. It all counts! 

Think about what you achieved when you first started writing. I can hear you say, “nothing. I was a newbie”. True but celebrate that. 

So many people say they’d like to write but never do so give yourself credit. Don’t dismiss small achievements. Small steps lead to more. Before you know it, you can look back and see how far you’ve come.

Everyone has to start somewhere! Pixabay image.

What You Would Like to Achieve Next       

It is an oddity that if you write something down, you’re more likely to get that something done. So jot down what you would like to see happen writing wise. This isn’t a wish list. With that, you’re waiting for the writing fairy godmother to turn up. I’m still waiting for mine…

Create a list of small, relatively easy things to achieve. This can be anything from writing more stories to starting a journal to committing to twenty minutes a day writing time. Tick these off as you get through them. This is so encouraging when you see that list being whittled away. 

Create a list of medium term projects. This could be anything from getting your first three chapters so polished they radiate Mr Sheen (other polishes are available), to getting the first edit done on your novel. 

Create a list of longer terms projects. These you won’t achieve in a year but what you want to see when you look back at this at about this time next year, God willing,is you have made progress towards achieving them. That is encouraging too.


Give yourself time to have fun with your writing and try something new for fun. Pixabay image.


Okay, you can’t plan spontaneity, but you can plan in time to play with your writing. Let’s say you write short stories but you have a secret longing to write that Booker winning novel. (We’ve all been there). 

Okay then, give yourself time away from what you usually write to start drafting that novel. If a writing competition catches your eye, give it a go. Enjoy your writing. 

Taking time out to look back at progress and look ahead to what you'd like to achieve pays off. It helps you focus for one thing. Pixabay image.

Happy and Peaceful New (writing) Year to you all!


  1. This is a very encouraging post, Allison. :-)

    1. Good! We could all do with some encouraging right now I think, Susan.

  2. I love making lists and find them really beneficial - whether you complete everything on your list or not! This was a helpful prompt for fast approaching 2021 😊

    1. Many thanks, Sharon. I am also of the "make a list" brigade. I've found I achieve more on the list than I think I will usually. Also I achieve more than if I hadn't made a list.

  3. So encouraging, Allison! I need to start doing this for sure.

  4. Thanks, Ruth. Looking forward to Isabella's adventures!

  5. Small steps definitely lead to more. I have to convince myself of that every single day to get myself into the writing, or into doing some research, or sorting out a timeline (today's job). I'm terrible for persuading myself out of it by concentrating too much on the enormity of the main goal. To continue the football analogy, I suppose it's the same as making one's way gradually down the pitch, dribbling the ball along, knowing that you're never going to score a goal if you don't get nearer to the net ;)

    1. Good comparison, Fran. And it is always better to take small steps than none at all. When you look back, you realise how far you have come and it will be further than you think. I think we tend to underestimate what we can do. Small steps led me to write short stories, then to discover flash fiction, and then to become published in both. So small steps are always worth trying!


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