Writing a book is a huge goal to take on; one that can feel out of reach. However, if someone is focused, intentional, and willing to do the hard work, it is not impossible–even with a busy calendar.
People ask me all the time, “How in the world did you write a book with your busy schedule?” It’s true my life is busy. I am a single Mom with a nine-year-old son, who also leads a ministry to the poor. I am always on the go and have to remind myself, with frequency, that rest is a form of worship.
So how in the world did I write and publish a book in 2017, and then launch it in 2018? My response to people is simple: “When you want to do something bad enough, you find the time.”
Well, that has been my go-to short answer. But I am going to share a more in-depth explanation. I used Cultivate What Matters PowerSheets. They helped me not only write a book, but kept me on track with all the marketing pieces that go along with it.
The Power in the PowerSheets
So what are PowerSheets and how can they help you on your journey? If you are not familiar with them, allow me to introduce you to Lara Casey, founder of Cultivate What Matters and creator of the PowerSheets Intentional Goal Planner.
PowerSheets began from a three-part blog post Lara wrote called, “How to Make Things Happen,” in response to women who were asking, “How do you do it all?” The blog post went viral. Later she created the “Making Things Happen Conference.” Then she rolled out the PowerSheets to get the information out to the masses. You can learn more about Lara and her team here.
PowerSheets has evolved and improved over the years, but the major pieces have stayed consistent. Each set of sheets provides activities to get your mind focused and creative juices flowing. They guide you to intentionally create goals for “the things that get you fired up and matter most to you.”
When you first open this spiral-bound book, you fill out a dozen or so pages before you get into the goal-setting part of the book. It can feel daunting for the first time user. However, if taken “little by little,” one of Lara’s mottos for growing slow, you will start to see your ideas populate the page. Most years I head into the process with one or two areas I want to work on. But these sheets help me analyze a variety of areas of my life that could use some tending. Before I know it, instead of wondering what I will do, I am trying to find where I will focus my time.
After you get through these initial pages, the goals tab leads you through a series of prompts to help you hone in on your goals. They ensure that you also consider them from a holistic perspective. I don’t know about you, but I can become lop-sided in my goals. I may focus on my professional life at times, when my relationships, my health, or my family need some TLC as well.
If any of this is starting to connect with you, I encourage you to check out the Cultivate What Matters PowerSheets Intentional Goals Planner for purchase. You can currently purchase an undated six-month version.
While you are there, you may want to check out the other goodies they have in the shop. I was never a huge sticker buff. But I am telling you, adding these to my sheets makes it a bit more unique to me. It also adds a bit of fun to tasks that can feel too much to accomplish that month. Not to mention, they have some great “encouragement” stickers keep me going.
PowerSheets In Action
PowerSheets found their way into my world in 2011. Right after God placed a vision on my heart to start a ministry to the poor in our community, I moved to Cullman, AL. I am a born and raised Yankee. But I married a Southern boy who moved me to his hometown to start a local church. When the local church did not succeed, we went back to the proverbial drawing table to discover what God desired of us instead.
In the beginning, I used PowerSheets to help me develop a strategy to start a faith-based, non-profit organization. It has now grown to serve 3,000 people a year in 23 different locations across our county. I saw that tremendous vision broken down into monthly, weekly, and daily goals through the PowerSheets. Then I understood how I could use this same goal-planning method to write my first book.
PowerSheets Help In Your Writing Goals
When it came time to put this big idea of writing on paper, ironically I had a difficult time of actually placing it there.
It all began when I felt God calling me to a public writing ministry. He encouraged me to take from my journal what I was learning, and put it on the internet, or so I thought. I started a blog and created a website, but it didn’t take long before people asked me about writing a book. They kept suggesting that my story was worth putting on paper for others to read. My excuse always was, “Do you see my life? I am busy enough, how could I also write a book? I am not Jen Hatmaker.”
Yes, I said that.
I felt the Lord’s correction when He said, “I told you to write, you decided how.”
Tackling a book in my already busy schedule felt daunting. My PowerSheets Intential Goals Planner helped me to break it down month-by-month, week-by-week, and then daily.
I wish I could say I was faithful to follow through on all I set out to do, but life caught me at times. Yet these sheets contain the most grace-filled reminders to help you come back to what you said you would do, without feeling like you failed. My PowerSheets let me have monthly do-overs.
In fact, there was a point in my life where I had to put my writing on a back burner. My ministry to the poor was opening a new building, and I had little to no time to write. It felt forced and extremely stressful. My PowerSheets allowed me to put off my writing for a month and come back to it later. They kept everything in one place. One of Lara’s phrases of encouragement is “Progress over Perfection.” It is the reminder that even if you make small steps, they are better than no steps.
PowerSheets are particularly helpful if:
- You realize that you need someone or something to hold you accountable to your goals.
- You don’t want to continue to procrastinate in writing that book someday; you are ready for someday to be now.
- Writing feels overwhelming, and you need a way to break it down into simple steps.
PowerSheets will not be helpful with:
- Creating a writing calendar, as there is not a calendar inside. However, there are supplemental sheets, that you can purchase here.
- Actually writing your book. That is entirely up to you.
- An online system. This planner is perfect for pen and paper people. If you prefer an online goal-setting system, I encourage you to stick with what works for you.
So let me break this down for you to help you see how this worked for me. My overarching goal was to launch a public writing ministry. This yearly goal had smaller idea goals attached to it.
- Blogging once a month (I know me too well to think I could handle weekly)
- Getting my book proposal into the hands of an agent
- Sharing more of what I was learning to my followers on social media
Everything changed when my book proposal landed in the hands of an agent. He decided he wanted a full manuscript before shopping it to publishers. I was not keen on this idea at first. But after a gut-check by the Holy Spirit, I conceded and decided to write the manuscript before I had an offer on it. But that decision had me making adjustments to my goals right after I had made them for the new year.
However, because of how this product works, I didn’t have to re-write anything or tear out pages to start fresh. What I did have to do was grab a calendar to set writing goals (so many chapters done by a point in each month). Once I plotted that out, I came back to my PowerSheets and put in the daily, weekly, and monthly goals. These are referred to as Tending Lists.
That first month looked something like this:
Write for 30 minutes a day
Write/Edit/Finalize one chapter a week
Write four chapters a month
The next month I realized that I really couldn’t write every day, so I set a weekly goal and a monthly goal. That felt more feasible for me.
My weekly goal was to write or edit one chapter. The pattern that worked for me was to write what I call my vomit copy (aka the first draft that I get out of me as fast as I can, which is raw and unedited). Then I let it sit a day or two, and then go back to re-read and edit. Depending on the week, I might be able to get all of that accomplished. But most of the time I was writing the first draft one week and then editing the next. Since I had a six-month deadline, this seemed to work well for me and my schedule. You modify this to meet your scheduling needs, especially if you are under a three-month book deadline.
You could use a similar method when it comes to writing articles, blog posts, growing social media, or scheduling. PowerSheets are incredibly versatile for whatever you are trying to accomplish.
You review each month through helpful page prompts. The planner helps you analyze what went well, where improvements or adjustments need to be made, and reminds you to have gratitude in the process.
Now it’s time to head into the next month. You check your calendar, consider what you already have on your plate and what you need to accomplish, and brain-dump so that you can set a plan. I’m amazed at how I can walk into that time feeling either over-whelmed or under-whelmed. But I leave with a sheet full of what I need to do to get a bit closer to my big, yearly goals.
Trusting the Process Is Key to Your PowerSheets Success
If you are not following Cultivate What Matters, on Instagram or Facebook, I highly suggest you do so. Lara and her team post ideas and words of encouragement. You get to see all their products in action. Lara is known to be transparent in sharing her struggles with running a business, being a mom and a wife, as well as an author. She is down-to-earth and relatable, which makes most women think, If she can do it, well, then so can I.
I hope you now understand how PowerSheets can be helpful in accomplishing your writing goals.
Have you used PowerSheets in your writing process? If so, do you have any other thoughts or suggestions that can be helpful for those reading this post?
If you haven’t used PowerSheets, what questions do you have so I can assist you in considering them for future use?Cultivate What Matters PowerSheets helped me not only write a book, but kept me on track with all the marketing pieces that go along with it. PowerSheets helps you review the past month and plan your next month so you get closer to your big, yearly goals. Even after setting your goals and mapping out your plan, sometimes things change. With PowerSheets, you don't have to start over or tear out pages. It's easy to make adjustments.
Dawn Owens is the author of Like Me Or Not: Overcoming Approval Addiction. Sounds like a great resource for Christian writers, creatives, and influencers, doesn’t it?