Write More With Less Stress: Project Planning for Writers
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Write More With Less Stress: Project Planning for Writers

Use simple project planning strategies to make more time to write what you love without neglecting family or day job.
4.4 (5 ratings)
Instead of using a simple lifetime average, Udemy calculates a course's star rating by considering a number of different factors such as the number of ratings, the age of ratings, and the likelihood of fraudulent ratings.
739 students enrolled
Created by Tricia Ballad
Last updated 3/2015
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Current price: $10 Original price: $50 Discount: 80% off
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  • 1 hour on-demand video
  • 8 Articles
  • 1 Supplemental Resource
  • Full lifetime access
  • Access on mobile and TV
  • Certificate of Completion
What Will I Learn?
  • Create a customized project plan for your next creative endeavor.
  • Schedule projects more effectively
  • Recover and stay on track when your project goes off schedule
View Curriculum
  • No additional software is required to complete the course.

Over 700 students enrolled in the first month!

Join them, setting yourself up for success before you write a novel, start a blog series, or create an indie film.

Take Your Creative Work to the Next Level Through My Simplified Project Planning Method

  • analyze the resources you already have
  • break a project down into manageable chunks
  • create a schedule that you know you can stick to
  • keep your project on track - and recover when life happens.

Write More With Less Stress

Project planning isn't just for corporate teams. The best and most prolific indie creatives use project planning to analyze their ideas, solve potential problems before they become crises, and keep their projects on schedule.

Professional writers, bloggers, and other creatives don't let writer's block stop them - because they know that successful planning is the key to beating writer's block before it has a chance to start.

Content and Overview

This course is designed for creatives - not full-time project managers. I'll introduce you to all of the concepts and terms you'll need to know. You'll be able to get started quickly, and apply the lectures, worksheets and templates included in this course to your current work-in-progress.

As you work through the 8 projects in this course, you'll analyze your current resources - including time and energy, then break your project down into a step-by-step task list.

You'll use that information to create a realistic project schedule that you know you'll be able to stick to. And if life happens, you'll learn how to recover and get back on track.

This course will help you do more of what you love, and will give you the tools you need to stand above the crowd in today's creative marketplace.

Who is the target audience?
  • This beginner-level project planning course is designed for professional writers and other creative entrepreneurs. No prior project management experience or knowledge is necessary, but you should be committed to the successful completion of your project.
  • This course is probably not for you if you are an experienced project manager or are looking for an introduction to project management for software projects or development teams.
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Curriculum For This Course
23 Lectures
Introduction to Project Planning
2 Lectures 09:14

This course begins with a few assumptions and expectations:

I assume that you are:

  • a professional writer, blogger, filmmaker or other creative - or that you're working toward going pro.
  • a creative entrepreneur.
  • not a full-time project manager - and have no desire to become one.

A few things you can expect:

  • I've been there, done that - I've been a pro writer for 10 years, managing several creative projects at a time, along with family demands.
  • You can expect support. I am in the course discussion area every weekday to answer your questions.
  • You can expect encouragement - if you weren't struggling with managing your creative work, you wouldn't be here!
Preview 04:45

Project planning is simply a roadmap of your project, with turn-by-turn directions.

It allows you to focus on each of the three aspects of your work (creative decisions, craft, and the business of writing) separately.

What Project Planning Is - and What it Isn't

Let's be sure you've got the basics down before we dive into the process.

Section 1: Introduction to Project Planning Quiz
3 questions
Analyze Your Resources
3 Lectures 06:06

In Section 2, we begin to analyze the resources you already have. This section contains two important projects:

  • A Time Journal, which you'll keep for several days while you continue on with the course
  • A Resource Inventory, which will be the basis of your project's budget.
Introduction to Section 2

In this project, you'll learn more about how you accomplish your work. You'll discover that some tasks take time and physical energy, but relatively little mental or creative energy, while others are more taxing on your creative resources, but require little physical energy.

You'll also begin to gather data on how long typical tasks actually take you to accomplish. This will be important later in the course, when you schedule your tasks.

Project: Keep a Time Journal

Some projects require more physical tools and resources than others. Even if you don't think you'll need any tools or supplies for your project, this is the time to do some preventative maintenance:

  • Run an anti-virus check on your computer
  • Verify that you have automatic backups set up so you don't lose your work
  • Take care of any computer maintenance that you've been putting off

These steps will ensure that you're ready to start work on your project, and that you won't lose time to emergency repairs later on.

Project: Inventory Your Physical Resources

Section 2: Analyze Your Resources Quiz
2 questions
Describe the Project
2 Lectures 04:49

It's always a good idea to start a new project knowing your ideal outcome. In this lecture, we'll take a few minutes to dream big and to answer one crucial question:

Why are you investing your time and energy in THIS project? What do you hope to accomplish in each of three key areas:

  • Creative Excitement
  • Career Advancement
  • Financial Improvements
Think BIG! What is Your Ideal Outcome?

In this project, you'll take your brainstorming from the previous lecture and write a brief, 1-page or less, project description. This will help you stay on track when you're tempted to follow tangents.

You'll also refine your ideas and goals pertaining to the three key areas of creative excitement, career advancement, and financial improvements.

Project: Describe Your Project and List 3 Goals.

Section 3: Describe the Project Quiz
2 questions
Break Down the Project into Manageable Chunks
4 Lectures 07:26

In this section, your project will begin to take shape. Even if you're anxious to get started, stick with the planning process. Breaking down your project now will help you foresee complications and problems early, while they're easy to solve.

Introduction to Section 4

There are three basic ways to break down a creative project:

  • Chronological
  • Contextual
  • Project-Specific

The important thing to remember is to use the method that makes the most sense for your work style and your project.

Ways to Break Down a Creative Project

A task is any action that:

  • can be completed in one sitting
  • cannot be reasonably broken down any further

A phase is simply a collection of tasks that are related, either chronologically, contextually, or in some other way.

A milestone is a task that marks the completion of a phase. It reminds you to come up for air, do a gut-check on your project, and celebrate your progress.

Preview 03:08

In this project, you'll brainstorm the tasks required to complete your project, and learn two effective brainstorming techniques.

  • Outline method - ideal for chronological projects
  • Index card method - ideal for visual thinkers and contextual projects

Use the method that makes the most sense for you and your project.

Project: Break Your Project Down

Section 4: Break Down Your Project Quiz
2 questions
Schedule the Project
3 Lectures 05:37

Now that you have a list of the tasks you'll need to accomplish in order to complete your project, it's time to dig out your time journal to figure out how long those tasks will take.

If you don't have specific data from your journal on a task, make your best guess, and add 10-25%.

Assign Time Values to Tasks

A dependency is "that thing you have to do before you can do this other thing."

Identify Dependencies

In this project, you'll bring your task list and dependencies together to create a high-level map of your project. When you're finished, you should have a good idea of what your project will involve and how complex it will be.

Project: Create a Project Time Line

Section 5: Schedule the Project Quiz
3 questions
Evaluate and Refine Your Project Schedule
3 Lectures 08:32
In this lecture, we'll discuss adding three important safety nets to your project schedule:
  • flex time
  • sick days
  • personal days

Each serve a unique purpose in keeping your project on track.

Time for a Reality Check

In this lecture, you'll learn how to revise your project time line if you want to complete your project sooner than forecasted.

Preview 03:40

This project is where it all comes together, and you find out your project's completion date. You'll map the information from your time line:

  • Project start date
  • Phase durations
  • Milestone dates
  • Anticipated flex, sick, and personal days

onto your calendar, where you can adjust for holidays and other commitments.

Project: Map the Project Time Line onto Your Calendar

Section 6: Evaluate and Refine your Schedule Quiz
2 questions
Why Project Monitoring Matters
1 Lecture 13:11

When it comes to monitoring your project, there are three key lessons to keep in mind:

  • You can't see the future - you can anticipate problems, but there will always be things you didn't expect
  • You have to roll with the punches - deal with problems as soon as you can, rather than cleaning up the mess later
  • You can recover, or you can quit - both are viable options
Three Lessons Learned on a Family Road Trip

Section 7: Project Monitoring Quiz
3 questions
Finish Your Project Plan
3 Lectures 03:49

In this lecture, you'll learn how to put all of the information you've gathered together into a cohesive project plan document. Include your

  • project description
  • resources
  • budget section
  • time line
  • supplementary materials
Project Maintenance is Just as Important as Planning.

In your final project, use the Project Plan Template in the resources section to create your final project plan document. This will be a useful guide for you as you go through your project, as well as a tool for bringing other people on board.

Project: Put Your Project Plan Document Together

Section 8: Finish Your Project Plan Quiz
1 question

Congratulations on finishing the course!

1 page
Additional Resources
2 Lectures 01:49
Upcoming Course Material

Some of you noticed an odd shadow at the end of the lecture on Phases, Milestones, and Tasks - nope, the course isn't haunted, we just had a photobomber!

Meet Our Course PhotoBomber!
About the Instructor
Tricia Ballad
4.4 Average rating
5 Reviews
745 Students
2 Courses
Author, Project Geek, and Autism Mom

Tricia Ballad began her professional life as a web developer for application teams at TransUnion, Greenwich Capital, and Follett Library Resources. Driven by her interest in productivity and project workflow, she studied best practices and strategies for getting more done.

In 2004, she left the corporate world to pursue a full-time writing career while caring for her growing family. She has authored and co-authored several books, including Securing PHP Web Applications (Addison-Wesley Professional, 2008), PHP & MySQL Web Development All-In-One Desk Reference For Dummies (For Dummies, 2008), Access Control, Authentication, and Public Key Infrastructure (Jones & Bartlett Learning, 2010), Daughter of Oreveille (Faeland Press, 2013, and Lady of Gaia (Faeland Press, 2014).

She also started several successful blogs, including a travel blog called Return to Disney, where she writes about Walt Disney World vacations for families affected by autism, ADHD, and food allergies. Her blogging career really took off after she and her husband took their children to Walt Disney World in 2010 to get away from the world after two of their sons were diagnosed with autism spectrum disorders. They needed a break from reality.

Tricia's interest in productivity and project management became a full-blown obsession as she faced the challenges of meeting her professional goals while balancing the responsibilities of a large, creative, and demanding family of special-needs kids.

In her decade of creative entrepreneurship, Tricia has modified the project management skills she learned in the software development arena to apply to unique needs of writers and other creatives. In 2011, she formed the MomWriters Goals Group, where she mentors other writers facing challenges related to goal setting, project planning and management, and staying on track despite distractions. She currently blogs about writing amidst the chaos of life at TB Creative.