Plan a year of content in just a few hours

In the early nineties, Spanish TV experienced a peculiar situation between two rival channels. The competition was fierce, and one night, during the broadcast of a film, the screens suddenly went dark. Another film, completely different from the one being shown, started playing. This unplanned switch occurred because someone from Channel One noticed that Channel Two was airing a highly anticipated blockbuster film. Channel One decided to abandon their original program and try to attract viewers from Channel Two.

In more mature TV landscapes, such incidents are avoided through careful planning. TV stations typically plan their schedules a year in advance. Although not every hour or day is meticulously planned, they work in blocks, taking into account major events like sports events, religious holidays, and civic occasions such as coronations. While there is room for flexibility due to unexpected occurrences like schedule changes or obituaries, even these unexpected events are often prepared for months or even years in advance.

While you may not be a TV station, if you create content for an audience, you have a similar opportunity. Whether you’re producing a podcast, drawing a web comic, or writing a newsletter, having a regular schedule is crucial. However, there may be times when you reach your publishing day without any ideas. This can be particularly challenging if you are busy, stressed, or it’s the last task of the day. In such situations, the ideation process may suffer, and you may lack the energy to come up with new ideas.

By planning ahead, you can alleviate unnecessary stress. So, how do you go about planning your content? It’s helpful to start by dividing the year into themes. You can choose as many themes as feels right for you, but it’s beneficial to divide the year into equal parts. For example, Morning Creative is divided into three seasons: planning, execution, and reflection.

Within each season, you can further divide it into months and assign a keyword to each month. While you might not always explicitly mention these keywords, they can guide your content creation process and provide value throughout the year by considering the psychological and spiritual aspects of each season.

You can also use the calendar to plan content around international days or other significant events. Additionally, you can include end-of-season reflections to summarize key learnings and provide extra content without having to create a new episode or piece of work.

Another approach is to use the story circle method, inspired by Dan Harmon’s storytelling technique. This method involves breaking a story into manageable chunks, divided into eight parts. It follows the hero’s journey, where the character starts in their comfort zone, experiences a need, enters an unfamiliar situation to search for what they want, faces challenges, obtains what they were seeking, pays a price for it, returns home changed, and starts a new cycle.

Now, let’s put all of this into practice. Start by dividing the year into equal parts, such as months. Plan your first month in detail, and have a general sense of the themes for the next 11 months. As you approach the end of each month, start planning for the next one. If possible, try to plan a couple of months in advance to allow for flexibility and unexpected events.

When you get an idea for content, consider where it fits within the overall cycle and theme. Maintain a spreadsheet, Trello board, or Notion database to organize your ideas and create a content calendar. As new ideas come to mind, slot them into appropriate months or themes, saving you from scrambling for ideas when the time comes. Once you establish this planning habit, you will feel more in control of your content creation process.

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