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Anne Louise Bannon Asks How Do You Plan for the New Year?

Anne Louise Bannon is the author of the Old Los Angeles series, the Operation Quickline series, and the Freddie and Kathy 1920s series. You can find out more about her here, see her books here, and read her last post here.

I love the beginning of a new year. There is something about the blank pages of a calendar that fills me with hope. The past two years have been pretty strange, thanks to COVID. But during all that time there have been plenty of ups as well as downs.

On the loss side of the ledger, I lost three aunts and an uncle since COVID started (only one to the virus, itself). On the plus side, they were all in their 90s, and I have to admit that I’m glad that I’m swimming in their gene pool. I got a lot of writing done because there wasn’t anywhere to go. However, now I have to figure out how to sell those stories, and I suspect that one’s going to elude me yet again.

And now, once again, the calendar is blank.

I have set goals, tried to visualize where I want to be next year at this time, five years from now at this time, and inevitably, I don’t achieve them. Part of the problem is that what I hope will happen – namely selling bazillions of books – I really don’t have any control over. I can put my books out there. I can buy ads. I can blog. But the bottom line is that someone else has to make that choice to buy my books and I have no control over whether or not they do.

So, I have come to the conclusion is that I need to focus on what I can control, namely what stories I’ll write, how I’ll let folks know they exist, all those things that I can do something about. And that’s what I put on my calendar and in my planner.

I’m using the digital version of the Passion Planner (which you can get here). If you like planning and dreaming, this is one great planner. I’ve changed a lot of things up in it, but that’s me. The thing is, it lays things out nicely and I can mess around with that plan as much as I want.

The point is, it doesn’t matter how I organize things. It’s that I do it. That I decide what I want to do in the coming year and hope that I do it. And that’s the best part of the beginning. There’s always a chance to start fresh.

How do you plan for the new year?

Anne Louise Bannon

Anne Louise Bannon is the author of the Freddie and Kathy mystery series, set in the 1920s, the Operation Quickline Series and the Old Los Angeles series, set in the 1870s. You can find out more about her on her website,, or follow her on Twitter, or Facebook.

This Post Has 26 Comments

  1. Laurie Buchanan
    Laurie Buchanan

    Anne — This post resonates with me because I thrive on plotting, planning, and strategizing.

    I live by my planner: It happens if it’s in there. It doesn’t if it’s not. Simple as that.

    1. Anne Louise Bannon
      Anne Louise Bannon

      Same here. If it’s not in Trello, my actual planner, or on a scrap of paper somewhere, odds are not good it will happen.

  2. Margaret Mizushima
    Margaret Mizushima

    I use a planner too, and I’ve always said my brain would be gone if I lost it. I still use the paper and pencil kind; I’m a creature of habit. I’ve got a lot to get done this first quarter of the year, and I just have to focus on that, but once I’m done, I’ll have time to plan for the next year or so from there. Have a good one, Anne!

    1. Anne Louise Bannon
      Anne Louise Bannon

      I like paper and pen, too, but the digital planner is easier to erase as things change.

  3. Christine DeSmet
    Christine DeSmet

    Great post! Each person is so different. I love shopping for a calendar in person so I can see the actual paper, covers, layout, and artwork. Those with beautiful photography and artwork make me happiest as I log in deadlines for my writing clients and myself. Best wishes for your 2022, Anne!

    1. Anne Louise Bannon
      Anne Louise Bannon

      A good looking planner is a must! When I was using the paper Passion Planners, mine had to have the right color cover. Period.

  4. Avatar

    I, too, love a blank calendar page. The possibilities are endless. And I color-code my calendar (and closet), so that certain things stand out at a glance. As for the new year, I’m so impressed with your priorities and plans. Wishing you every success as you tell those stories that need to be told!

    1. Anne Louise Bannon
      Anne Louise Bannon

      Oh, boy!! Another color-coder. I love color coding. My only problem is remembering which colors mean what.

  5. Valerie Biel
    Valerie Biel

    This is a serious topic!! I love having the perfect planner . . . but it seems that I couldn’t decide exactly what that planner should look like until I finally found the Field Notes 56-week Planner. It is a good size for a purse/computer bag if I am reluctant to rely entirely on my google calendar (which I also employ). It has blank calendar pages, which I can customize as needed. But I have to say your planner is very enticing. I particularly like that box in the bottom right that says, “space of infinite possibilities” and the box for “stuff I want to do” (bottom left) . . . because that often doesn’t get written down when we’re focused on writing/work. I also have a long-range planner for all the other things I need to organize like blog posts/guest blogging, upcoming events, marketing, etc… I’m kind of a planner / office supply addict.

    1. Anne Louise Bannon
      Anne Louise Bannon

      I am such an office supply junkie. But, ummm, the Stuff I Want to Do box is one I customized on the digital planner – another reason why I like it. But the Space of Infinite Possibilities is part of the original. It’s a lovely space. I use my wall whiteboard for longer range planning, and scribble all over the year calendars in the front of the planner for really long-range.

  6. Avatar

    I don’t plan much beyond the day’s to-do list. I don’t make resolutions like most people do. I do my best to carry out my immediate tasks. I’m starting my new book today, and I’m pretty certain I’ll finish it by the time I have to send it to my editor. I exercise, I eat a basically healthy diet (except my for cheese addiction) and I do my best to keep up with friends and family.

    1. Anne Louise Bannon
      Anne Louise Bannon

      If it works for you, then that’s terrific. And I have my days when I do that.

  7. joyribar

    It’s a great reminder to be thankful for a year of new planning and new goals. I use my Google Calendar because it’s with me everywhere I go, but I secretly love to write down almost everything longhand with pen on paper. It feels like a commitment that way — a way for me to commit to that plan and not let it go up into the ether. Ah, January.

    1. Anne Louise Bannon
      Anne Louise Bannon

      Yeah. I know. I’m hoping I’m getting some good habits going. We’ll see. I also live on little scraps of paper because even though I have my phone with me, Google Calendar gets too crowded with sticky notes.

  8. Avatar
    Jacqueline Vick

    Exactly right. I’m following a version of The One Thing in Trello.

    1. Anne Louise Bannon
      Anne Louise Bannon

      Really? she asked with great interest. What’s The One Thing? I use Trello, too. It helps keep my longer projects in order. but I use the Passion Planner for day to day stuff.

  9. Sheila Lowe
    Sheila Lowe

    I like that clean slate thing, too. I mainly use spreadsheets that keep me organized, and a notebook for my weekly/daily To Do’s. Which reminds me, it needs updating…

  10. Anne Louise Bannon
    Anne Louise Bannon

    I’ve already got two scraps of paper on my desk to remind me of things that I need to add to the planner. Sigh.

  11. Tracey S. Phillips
    Tracey S. Phillips

    Anne, your post sang to me, because in life I’m a planner and list maker. (Not so much when I write) But it helps me more than anything to write it down. I have not one, but 2 paper calendars and notepads strategically located all over the house. I use stickers and different colored pens. A few years ago I began using a google calendar and now everything goes from the paper to the online one and vice versa. And I can carry that everywhere!! Unfortunately I paid for Asana–another app–and hated it. The digital ones just don’t do it for me.
    Happy new year! A clean slate is the best!

    1. Anne Louise Bannon
      Anne Louise Bannon

      What fun. I do use Google Calendar for planning and for sharing purposes – so my husband and I have the same dates for things. When I can get him to put the dates on the calendar.

  12. Sherrill Joseph
    Sherrill Joseph

    Thanks, Anne. Happy 2022 and a fresh planner. Like Christine, I enjoy shopping for an actual calendar. I sit down with it the last week of December and, using the old calendar, go through and add everyone’s birthdays, upcoming appointments, etc., to the new one. I’m good at noting important dates and to-do’s on it; otherwise, they don’t happen. The calendar is on my desk, at my fingertips constantly. I am nothing if not organized!

  13. Anne Louise Bannon
    Anne Louise Bannon

    That’s terrific, Sherrill. I’m not overly organized, but if it doesn’t get written down, it’s not going to happen.

  14. Sharon Lynn
    Sharon Lynn

    Great post, Anne! I’m not a planner person but I live by lists. Love my lists! I’ve even taught my daughter how to write in cursive with our shared grocery list.

    1. Anne Louise Bannon
      Anne Louise Bannon

      I love lists, too! I think that’s why i got into using planners. It kept the lists in order.

  15. Avatar
    Laurie's Story

    I once edited a non-fiction book on business practices written by a Los Angeles Fire Captain and Chief (they retired and went into business together). They applied order and a step-by-step process to business taken from their experience as firefighters. Really interesting book Anyhow, they talked about 1)Mission statement 2)vision 3) goals and much more. What’s your overall mission? To write a great book(s)? To sell a zillion books? (because the two may not necessarily overlap..:) then what is your vision for this year (what do you need to accomplish). Finally, what’s your goal? Goals can be hour to hour, day to day, this week etc. but they are short term. Probably, I’ve been a little too organic in my approach to writing and marketing, and need to remind myself more often the value of order! Thanks for reminding me, Anne.

    1. Anne Louise Bannon
      Anne Louise Bannon

      You’re welcome, Laurie. I do love that vision and goals sort of thinking, but inevitably, they don’t pan out for me. I do much better focusing on what I want to accomplish, and am also learning how to let go of doing, doing, doing, too. Sounds like a great book, though. I’ll have to look it up.

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