You are probably sick of hearing me say by now that none of us write in a bubble. Life happens, sometimes we have to throw our plans out the window, especially if we have kids, blah blah blah.
Okay, we get it. The days that we actually get to do the things we plan are few and far between. Most days other things are going to come up that take your to do list and burn it.
So why even bother having a plan? Why not just do what we can, and see how it turns out? Sometimes it seems like that’s what’s going to happen anyway, no matter how we try to avoid it.
I’ll tell you why. Because there is a world of difference between having a plan that goes awry and having no plan at all. While it might not seem like it, consider the following.
Planning is a cornerstone of being a grownup.
The world is full of things you need to plan for. Work, doctors appointments, meetings, coffee with a friend you haven’t seen since college. That is the foundation of your plans; the things you must be on time for. People who have no plans have no guarantee they’re going to meet those plans. It’s the flakey friend who’s late, the co creator who can never be depended upon to do their part of the work. I know, it’s very poetic to consider the stereotype of the flakey artist, but we’re writers! Writers have deadlines.
Goals help motivate you.
Especially if you’ve only got a few minutes. You need to know, and I mean know the next step in your project. You can’t have twenty minutes and spend half of that time figuring out what you need to do next. Because you know your twenty minutes is going to turn into ten.
Having goals gives you a direction.
Knowing where you’re going is a big theme for me. I need to know where I intend to end up. I don’t just want to be a writer. If that’s all I want, my work here is done. I want to be a writer that supports myself and my family with my writing. I want to write speculative fiction. You see how that’s different? This tells me what I need to do, if that’s my goal. Not just a vague, I want to be a writer.
Having a plan means that at least the most important things will happen.
Remember, when I make a to do list, I prioritize it. I’ve discussed this before, but it’s important, so I’ll repeat it. If plans go awry, at least the most important thing got done first.
If you have a plan, you are more likely to insist upon respecting your own time.
This is something that I continue to struggle with. If you’re like me, your family depends on you for a lot. There are, and always will be, demands on my time. Some of them I must meet, some of them I want to.
Some of them are an honest imposition and people should damn well know better. I’m good at seeing those, but not so good at saying no.
Having a plan helps me. “I have to get things done. What things? These things!” I’m getting better at saying no without apology or excuses, but when I feel compelled to give a reason, this helps. “Can you volunteer for this meaningless project you get no joy from?” No, I’m writing that day. I have to get this draft done by the end of the month. “Can you watch my kid for three hours?” No, I like my kids and like two others. Besides, I have blog posts to write. “Can you bake something for this sale?” Only if you want me to poison somebody. Also, I’m behind on a deadline.
It also helps you respect your own time against time leeches. I’m looking at you, Pintrest! Netflix and chill? Sounds great, but I need to get five pages done first.
Basically, life is going to happen, whether we plan for it or not. But it’s going to happen in a more manageable way if we’re prepared with a plan.