Three Things That Changed My Writing Life This Year. . . for the Better!

By Jeanine Englert

Despite the chaos buried within 2020, there were nuggets of gold within it. I believe we all found we were far more resilient than we believed ourselves to be and gratitude for our health, family, and well-being carried us along. While I know we are still in that pandemic, my hope is that we are nearer to being on the other side of it and back to some sense of normalcy.

I don’t think I’m the only author whose writing changed throughout this past year, and I wanted to share with you three things that I discovered that enriched my writing process and writing life quite dramatically. Please know that these items may not have the profound impact on you that they had on me, but I’m hopeful that some of them might

1. PLOTTR: (Yearly fee of $47, but you can try it free for 30 days to see if you like it.)

Okay, you may sigh as you see that I listed writing software, but give it a look. I am a reformed pantser. I never plotted. I never outlined. Then, I ended up rewriting the same book five times. It made me want to find a software that I could plot with, and this one works for me because it is so simple, so visual, and so colorful. I can make character sheets, setting sheets, and series bibles for books that are interconnected with ease. I love it! Perhaps that means I’m now a plantser? I’m not sure.

2. The CALM App: ($14.99/month, but free 7-day trial to see if you like it)

This is the most expensive of my recommendations, but as someone who was really struggling to keep my anxiety and worry under wraps as I taught students in person this year with COVID on the rise, I can say that it was worth every penny. Listening to the Daily Calm sessions, music choices, sleep stories (my favorites are by Harry Styles and Jerome Flynn), and meditations helped me to sleep (most nights) and get my worries under wraps. Mental health is priceless if you ask me, and this helped me manage my stress and anxiety about all of the things I couldn’t control.

3. The Author’s Accountability Planner by 4 Horsemen Publications: ($21.99)

I confess that planners and I have had a mixed relationship in the past. I find some too large, others too small, and that none of them had much to do with writing in a way that was helpful (and not a distraction) until I found this little gem. My favorite part is the monthly activity grid wheel that you color in as you go to show what you are spending the most time on (writing, researching, marketing, editing, etc.) to help you “see” if you are working in a way that is helping you to achieve your monthly and yearly goals that you set at the beginning of the book. I love, love, love this planner!

I hope one of these items might help make your writing process and upcoming writing year even better! Do you have a new writing tool or idea to share? Please drop a comment and let me know. I’m always looking to add to my writing toolbox!

 Happy writing!


Jeanine Englert’s love affair with mysteries and romance began with Nancy Drew, Murder She Wrote, and her Grandmother’s bookshelves full of romance novels. She is a Golden Heart ® Finalist, Silver Falchion, Maggie, and Daphne du Maurier Award Winner in historical romance and mystery. Her Scottish Highland historical and historical romantic suspense novels revolve around characters seeking self-acceptance and redemption. When she isn’t wrangling with her characters on the page, she can be found trying to convince her husband to watch her latest Masterpiece or BBC show obsession. She loves to talk about books, writing, her beloved rescue pups, as well as mysteries and romance with other readers. Visit her website at

The truth just won’t stay buried.

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6 Responses to Three Things That Changed My Writing Life This Year. . . for the Better!

  1. Tanya A. says:

    Hi, Jeanine! Thanks for the tips about positive ways to stay calm and approach the writing life. I’m going to look into the Calm app. Happy writing!

    • jeaninewrites says:

      Hi Tanya!! I hope you’ve liked the planner. And Calm is great, but it is pricey. Definitely do the free trial first to make sure you like it. Hope you have a great Valentine’s Day weekend and happy writing to you too!

  2. viola62 says:

    I love the idea of an accountability planner. I a both a pantser and a planner. I vacillate between the two.

    • jeaninewrites says:

      Viola, we may be like minded as plotting is not natural for me. I have to give myself a pep talk to do it, but I never regret spending that time planning, as I have written myself into a few corners as a pantser. Hope you have a great Valentine’s Day!

  3. sueberger3 says:

    I will keep plottr in mind. Calm I find essential. My health insurance Kaiser pays for my Calm subscription. But there is another one that is good that has sleep stories and lots of meditations. It’s free it’s called insight timer and I had that one before I had Calm. I
    can’t look at planners they make me crazy. I content myself with my Gmail calendar and if it isn’t on my Gmail calendar it doesn’t happen. Happy Valentine’s Day and happy we will see the end of this within the next year hopefully.

    • jeaninewrites says:

      Hi Susan! I understand your hesitation towards planners. Getting the wrong one can sometimes be worse than not having one at all. I’ll have to look into insight timer, as that sounds great. 🙂 I appreciate your recommendation as Calm is pricey. I hope you also have a wonderful Valentine’s Day!! Take care!

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