Nothing happens unless you take action.
But you don’t want to take random, chaotic actions.
You want to take intentional actions toward some goal.
To do that, you need an Action Plan.
One problem with most projects is that you don’t know all the steps required to complete the plan.
The solution is to make an Action Plan that evolves in time. As you work through the steps in your evolving Action Plan, you’ll continually add new steps, because you’ll learn more and more about how to do your project. Eventually, you’ll run out of steps, and at that point, your project will be done.
The Theory Behind Action Plans
I wrote a very long article on the theory of Action Plans in the November 2020 issue of my Advanced Fiction Writing E-zine. Look for the article named “Executing Hard Projects.” (All past issues of my e-zine are archived here.)
If you want to learn the theory, you can read that article now.
It’s great to understand the theory, but theory is not enough. If you actually want to execute a hard project, you need to put the theory into practice.
You do that by building an Action Plan.
If you’ve never done that before, it might seem complicated.
So I’ve made a couple of templates for you to use. Most writers use either Microsoft Word or Scrivener, so I’ve made a template in each format.
I’ve also made a sample Marketing Action Plan for a hypothetical writer who wants to market their books better. I’ve written in the first few steps in the Action Plan, so you’ll see how you use the Action Plan. But I haven’t created the whole Action Plan for you, because I don’t know your exact marketing needs. You need to create an Action Plan that’s customized for you. Only you are qualified to do that.
The template files and sample Action Plans are compressed in a zip file named “Action_Plan_Templates.zip”.
How to Get the Action Plan Templates
The Action Plan templates will cost you nothing. Just click this link and the zip file will download to the usual Downloads area for your web browser.
After you download the file, you’ll need to unzip it. Here’s how:
- On a Mac, just double-click the zip file and it’ll uncompress into a folder with the various template files.
- If you’re using Windows, uncompress the zip file using whatever method you usually use for your version of Windows. If you’ve never done that, you’ll need to Google how to do it.
How to Use the Scrivener Template
The Scrivener file is an all-in-one file named “Action Plan Scrivener File.scriv” that contains both the template and the sample Action Plan. I recommend that you keep all your Action Plans in this same Scrivener file.
To create a new Action Plan within this Scrivener file, do the following:
- Right-click the folder named “My Action Plans”.
- A menu will pop up.
- Select “Add > Next Text From Template > Any Action Plan”.
- A new document will appear named “Any Action Plan”.
- Rename this and edit the document.
The new document has directions on how to fill it in. Follow those directions to create an Action Plan that will evolve as you learn more and more about the project you’re trying to do.
How to Use the Microsoft Word Files
You’ll find two Microsoft Word files in the “Action Plan Templates” folder.
The template file is named “Action Plan Template Word Document.docx”.
The sample Action Plan is named “Sample Action Plan Word Document.docx”.
To use the template file, just make a copy of it and edit that. Keep the original template file so you can use it again and again for other Action Plans in the future.
To use the sample Action Plan, just open it and see how I filled it in. It has some directions to tell you how to keep building out your Action Plan as you learn more and more about the project you’re trying to take action on.
Want to Learn More?
I’ll be talking more about Action Plans in the next issue of my Advanced Fiction Writing E-zine.
If you’re not already subscribed to that, you can find out all about it and sign up here.
In the January 2021 issue, I’ll be talking about how to build out your Marketing Action Plan in 2021. This will probably take several months, because marketing is a large and complex topic. But we’ll take it one step at a time, and focus on the marketing tasks you should do first to build a powerful marketing machine that will work for you while you sleep.
Website is taking me round in circles. In your latest email, How to make an action plan, you have a link and say to Look for the article named “Executing Hard Projects.” The link takes me to a long list of articles going back years. I couldn’t find the article so I put “Executing Hard Projects” into your ‘search’ system. It took me back to the email I started off with, “How to make an Action Plan.” Help.
Randy Ingermanson says
Hey, Andy, go to the e-zine page and find the November 2020 issue and click on that link.
Naomi Johnson says
After reading this I looked up the longer piece from your archives. I’ve now set up my plan! Woo-hoo, happy here.
I’m also forming a small 3 person accountability group to help keep me on track with my “actionable tasks”.
Super-appreciated all the differentiation you articulated. VERY helpful!
Randy Ingermanson says
Hi Naomi, glad to hear it! Once you’ve made your first Action Plan, you’ll wonder how you ever got any big projects done without it. Have fun!