I have always been a planner when it comes to series. I like to have a real idea of what I might cover going in. Themes, pieces, interviews, just whatever comes to my mind as I do some research going in. But in those days I had editors, commissions and other writers making suggestions.
Now I am alone. And my time is my money. I have to be very careful with how I use my hours and so I now do content plans. It started by simply turning my list of potential articles into a basic list. But from there I have gone well beyond that.
It starts with a calendar. As simple as that. When are the playoffs, when does the Olympics start, when are your holidays or busy days. I want to know what my rest days are, what I will be on tour, when is the time for features, and when will I be just doing match coverage. Get it all down there.
And then once you have everything you want to cover. You take the ideas and you put up the day you plan to work on them. If they are timely, ensure you give yourself enough hours to get them up when needed. If you have a series on, scale back the features to other times when you’ll have more time to do them justice.
The important thing is to get as much as you can down to understand your workload. I usually do three or six month plans. And I do all this knowing that I can suddenly get offered a whole different series and the plan goes. That is ok, because the more I think the more ideas spin off from these.
It also doesn’t matter if days are missed, or other content comes along that is better. This isn’t a concrete list, it’s just a plan, , but what I don’t want to do is ever sit down and not be sure what I am supposed to be working on.
With my ideas I also want to colour code them a little bit so I know a little about them. Is it a stats piece, historical context or story based. Will I have to interview or chat to anyone. What is my research plan. Can I sketch out a basic skeleton structure. Maybe do a mind map if I’m feeling punchy. These idea days are so great, they usually excite me for a long time after, just knowing that I have 60 to 100 ideas lined up, even if I know that I’ll only ever get to half of them. At best.
It doesn’t matter if your planning is not as full on as mine, knowing when things are happening and having ideas on what you might do when they start is a huge advantage.