Having badgered so many people into revealing how they plan, I figure I’d better post my own plan for the month before it gets too much further into December. I’m going to begin by showing you what my November plan looked like. I’m sure you won’t need to do more than glance at it to understand why it made me feel like a total loser, not even four days into it. There is certainly such a thing as being overscheduled and overorganized. Here it is:
You know, I’d never ask someone who worked for me to adhere to a plan like that, one with so many requirements, so many teensy little boxes to be checked, so many chances to fail. And I’d never give anyone THAT many things to do in one day, and then follow it up with another day full of the same or more things. Nor would I tell them what a sorry loser they are when they flailed under that ambitious plan, which is sort of the tone I took with myself when I couldn’t keep up.
Why am I so mean to myself? Beats me. We are often so much harder on ourselves than we are on other people. Time to stop that. And yes, I’m talking to you, dear reader.
So, I began at the beginning: the starting point and, in fact, the reason planning exists, is because of goals. You have a goal, you need to get to it, so you need some kind of plan. This sort of thing is different from calendaring, which is a tool you can use when you plan, but it’s also a tool you can use just to make sure you get through your life without forgetting to pay your car insurance. Although a calendar can be — and alas often is– full of unpleasant things — a plan should be fun. In fact, if the route to the goal isn’t pleasurable and worthwhile, the whole thing will collapse. Therefore, I have banished the obsessive, daily list of too-many-things-to-do, and the mean talking to myself.
One of my important goals is to do meaningful work as a writer. I want to write well, and I want to have what I write go out into the world and entertain people and make them happy. My other important goal this month is to have a sane and happy holiday season.
I began my plan by sketching out a list of things that make for a good holiday — choosing gifts that let people know I’ve been thinking about them, giving a party, going to listen to music, and doing something for other people. Those are things that matter to me. Others might find them excrutiating. Good thing we all get to be us, and not each other!
The writing goal involves moving forward. Two pages a day. And this month, moving forward also means sending out some stories I’ve written, writing a non-fiction book proposal (which I might want to wait until January to do), proofing my novel carefully and for the last time and considering whether it needs a few more chapters, writing a synopsis, and then sending out queries to agents. I don’t know if I can do all those things this month, but I’m just going to get started. And that’s the innovation I’m most excited about (maybe it’s not an innovation — maybe a zillion people do this — but I’ve never thought of it before). I’m not going to make more than two days’ worth of things to do to get to those goals. I wrote up a list of things for Monday and Tuesday and here it is Tuesday, and they’re not all done. Instead of starting Wednesdsay with stuff undone, I’m not going to write another date on the list until I finish the ones that are there. When I do finish, then I’ll put another couple of days’ worth of stuff down. And I’ll take as long as I need to to finish that stuff.
I also made a no fly zone, which I’m quite happy about. No cards (I know Courtney loves cards — but I find I have no time to sleep if I write cards), no last minute party going, no stepping in and buying gifts that my husband has said he’ll buy. Oh, and the best of all: NO MAKING FOOD GIFTS. What a swamp that has been in years past, when I’ve made hot chocolate mix, and jam, and individual pound cakes and [shudder] a lot of complicated crap from Martha Stewart Living — all things that take a lot of time, and are never as much fun as I think they’ll be.
Here’s what the goal sketching looks like:
And here is my modest two days’ worth of stuff to do to get to those goals. And here it is hours to Wednesday and I’m not done. And I don’t feel like a bad person at all because there’s nothing waiting for me to do until I decide I’m ready to write down some more. And you know what? I might actually erase a couple of things I’ve discovered I don’t really want to do right now.
And now, more tagging: Show Us Your Plan!
Dani, whose work in progress always seems to be progressing so beautifully. (How do you read so many books?!)
aphra–I know she’s taking a little break for the month, but come January, maybe she will be planning up a storm.
Cole, who cracks me up and makes me think, and must have some spin on planning that’s going to do both.
bookie — do you and dani have the exact same system for reading a million books and writing so well about them? I want to know.
bora, fellow writer, fellow Berkeleyan, fellow luster-after-fabulous-korean-storage-containers. I’m sure she is a fabulous planner.
jade. How can she have her finger in so many pies? (In fact, go check out the pumpkin one she’s just made!)
carl has actually already answered this question, because he’s a Master Planner, but I’m tagging him anyway, because I can.
alison — always a lot on her plate, always a lot of projects in the air. I’d like to know how she keeps it all going.
sharon, at exlibris — how can someone who’s responsible for cats and daughters — six total — have such an organized and beautiful reading life?
George Simmers is a remarkable man, and his blog, Great War Fiction, is an incredibly rich source of information about the Great War. How he does it, I do not know. But I would like to!
And no, I am not done with this tagging thing, which I am finding incredibly fun. It’s just that my fingers are about to fall off.
Happy Planning All!