Your Plans Might Not Work, And That’s Okay

I would like to take today to remind everybody that the number one killer of New Year Resolutions is to have a day when life happens and get discouraged.

We got a new puppy. In unrelated news, I’m behind on everything.

It’s not because he encourages me to play with him instead of writing. Okay, it’s partially because of that. But it’s mostly because he needs attention or he’ll shred the damn house. It’s like having a kid all over again, except he won’t watch Baby Einstein so I can get something done for ten freaking minutes!

So the other day, I was hard at work editing, and Oliver was going insane. I was going a little insane, too. I didn’t like the chapter, but I wasn’t sure what to do about it. Then, I had a spastic dog to deal with on top of that, so you know nothing was getting done. I wanted to work, and it just wasn’t going to happen until I did something about the damn dog! So, I took him for a walk, in the hopes of getting his energy out a little.

That didn’t work, but something else happened. I was walking around my neighborhood, which I don’t do a lot. We just moved in a few months ago, and I’m still not familiar with the place, yet. So because I don’t want to get lost, I pay attention to where we’re going. I wasn’t paying attention to my story, and how stuck I was on this sucky chapter.

I met a neighbor I hadn’t yet. We saw another dog, and he and Oliver made friends. And when I finally got back to my desk, I had a solution for my chapter.

Basically, if I had tried to stick to the plan, I would have had a frantic dog, a chapter I still wasn’t happy about, and probably some puppy pee thrown in there for good measure.

I’m sure I have a thousand stories of kids who needed attention, medical emergencies that required a total shift of plans, or any number of things that might take my lovely time blocked day and toss it on its ear. These things are never going to go away. I will never write in a bubble, so I must learn how to deal with life in a sensible way. Here’s what I do when life gets in the way of my to do list.

Plan first to avoid it

I have done post after post about how I have taught my monsters to honor my writing time. My husband is the homemaker, and knows that my writing is for the better of us all eventually. (He also knows I get grouchy without some writing time.) I have a job I can’t get emergency called in on. I do my best to plan my productive hours for times I know the distractions will be limited. School hours, time the kids are playing outside, that sort of thing. A lot of this comes under common sense. I’m not getting any writing done while the monsters are getting ready for school, or while we’re making dinner, or during Steelers games.

React with understanding

But when something does happen, I have to be cool about it. First off, I’m a mom. While the kids need to respect my time, I need to respect that they can’t always. At eleven, there are still things they need me to do for them. There are always going to be times when they are just freaking out and need their mom.

If you’re not a parent, though, there is still no reason to throw a hissy fit because you didn’t get the productive time you thought you were going to. First off, you’re probably a grown up, and hissy fits are beneath you. Second, it wastes energy that you could be using to fix the problem. Third, and most importantly, you’re guaranteeing that you will have no happiness from whatever has distracted you from your writing. More on that next.

Savor life

Yeah, I know what you’re thinking. Savoring life is all when and good when your distraction was a puppy that needed love from his new mommy. Or when your daughter’s internet boyfriend broke up with her and she needed to be distracted with Jenna Marbles videos. Except that you didn’t get those moments if you did your best to just deal with the situation and move on. Band aid solutions, or pawning something off on someone else will not give you a happy moment.

But what if something actually bad wrecked your day?

I might have mentioned before, my husband has some health issues. Sometimes that means he isn’t feeling well, so I’ve got to take over household stuff. Sometimes that means we’re going to the emergency room. Let me tell you, the first time you’re trying to entertain your kids in the emergency waiting room while your husband is maybe dying I don’t know and what if he dies, what the hell am I going to do, am I going to have to quit my job, holy crap I’m going to be a widow I’m not even thirty yet! (Gasp!) it’s sort of stressful. The last time, I was amused by the fact that the vending machine gave me dollar coins back.

That point aside, you have got to learn to take the bad times and make something good from them. If that means health concerns or just a busy day, it makes no difference.

Come back and regroup

If you can, come back to your desk. If it’s only been an hour or two, you will probably just have to kick it up a notch. However, you might need to take a look at your to do list and re prioritize it.

If you’re coming back the next day, take a deep breath and forget it. Just make a new to do list and move on.



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