By this time next month, fall will have begun and summer will be fading into memory. But in this moment, I can say I have what I call an end of summer funk.
It’s the time right as school starts, when one is planning out their next moves and how to accomplish them. It is also the time of new beginnings, maybe it’s the end of a special summer or even just starting a new school. Every fall, something begins and something ends.
This year, it has made me reflective and almost sad. My kids are all grown and out of the house, we’re in Austria as life moves on. I noticed it in the pictures of my grandkids at their first day of kindergarten. They were full of happiness for new adventures. Full of those things that had somehow slipped away from me over the hot summer.
With the heatwaves here in Europe, I felt a little more defeated and aimless in my efforts. Then I saw the boys and realized that maybe I wasn’t so aimless but more lost because of my lack of focus. Heat with humidity does that to me. And I just didn’t realize how much until this year. But somehow, somewhere, I know I was thinking along the right path because of a few steps I’d taken earlier in the month.
Before any of the above happened, I had a moment of clarity where I ordered planning materials designed to help me focus and maintain my momentum. I have a lot of writing to do this fall through next spring and unless I can keep on task, it won’t get done. Now this is hard because I can’t use anything from here because it’s all in German. I don’t know enough of the language to think in it and that’s what one needs when using a planner.
I was in luck as my husband’s work was having a working group where a lot of Americans come to Vienna for updates and training. These are people I knew well and who frequently deliver things I can only get from the US. So I went on a hunt for a planner that would do a writer justice. Now, this will help me plan my time, my projects and my priorities, which always seem to get skewed this time of year. When I do a plan then work the plan, I stay focused and on track.
While I’m a pantser at heart, doing this type of focusing will always help me write better. Once I’m on this track, I will start doing outlines that help me in general. I tend to deviate away from most outlines because my characters talk to me differently when I actually do the writing but at least I have an idea of where I’d like them to end.
Yeah, characters sometimes – wait, revise that – many times will not go where I think they should go. That is the number one reason I will remain a pantser because I can’t force them to do what I want any more than forcing my kids to do something either. Characters are living things and if I can just plan little things, names or likes or dislikes, I’m at least ahead of the game.
For me, it is the life planning of my day, what projects I want to do and how I plan to do them is what keeps my writing career on an even keel. And I was extremely blessed to have found something at Amazon from the group Tools4Wisdom called a Month-Life-Planning-Agenda because that’s what I needed. I was immediately impressed with the cover because it’s a trail through an autumn forest. I love walking through places like that.
Then I looked at the pages and saw a Goals page where I could put in my individual projects, namely books, into perspective. This would help me tremendously because I could plan for the whole year. And for me a year runs from September to August because I guess I’m still on the school year or government plan. It just seems to work better for me.
The next page I saw was the Essential Goals page. This page is gold because it lets me name a number one priority for the month then I can add some other smaller items to be finished. Every item is accompanied by a why and how accomplishing that goal will add value to my life. While I’d never thought of my writing in that manner, I could see where it would be beneficial to my overall plan.
Then comes the daily pages where you actually set out to do the work. The time increments are in 30 minutes and start at an early 5 am then don’t end until 9 pm. Just perfect for a writer since we do work at all times of the day. Now, you can also flip that so it starts at 5 pm and doesn’t end until 9 am. It all depends upon when you work best. I work best first thing in the morning then I get a second wind later in the afternoon. Normally, I need my coffee first before I do anything. Weekends you have hour increments and not as many.
Each day has a place for Top Priorities, Secondary Priorities and other. You also have a section for Vision, Purpose and Action. All these are necessary if you want to remain focused and totally on task. This is something I definitely needed as I’m always at my best when I plan. So I ordered it.
The bad thing was that I had to wait a couple of weeks before it would be hand delivered to me. I decided I’d use those weeks for reading, watching movies or shows, critiquing and trying to do some organization. This plan worked pretty well since it was still very hot. At least for a while, then the rains came. Sigh.
Finally, the day arrived where I was getting my planner. My anticipation level was high and I wanted to get my hands on it to get planning. The first thing when I got it was I marveled at its size as it was twice as big as I thought it would be. This is good since I wanted lots of room to put items down. I felt energized and somehow accomplished. I was holding in my hands the instrument needed to take my writing career to an even higher, more focused level. I loved the feeling just holding it gave me.
I thanked my friend for delivering it and put it in my backpack. Pulling it out once I was in my office, I realized I needed to clear a larger space for it. When my planner is open next to me is when I get the most from it so that I can frequently refer to it when I see myself deviating from it. Yes, there will be some days that it’s going to be too structured for me as I’m more of a free-bird type person. But for the long haul, this was definitely the way to go for me as it has already pulled me out of my funk, forcing me to embrace a wonderful well-planned future.
What about you? Do you need to plan major things out or can you accomplish your goals with little forethought? I’d love to hear your thoughts on this. I’ll keep everyone updated at my weekly blog column just how using the planner is going, My So Called Writing Life, and hopefully, some of you will join me there.
Until next time…