It’s come to this. I can’t put together a decent planning strategy for December unless I sit down for half an hour and make a plan for what a good plan should look like.
First, I am going to heed the many commenters who, in the last two days have talked about the difficulty — the sheer, hyperventilating, dizzy-making difficulty — of putting together and adhering to a plan to get yourself to the other side of anything. So this is my first planning principle: Whatever plan I end up making for December, it is not going to make me –or you — want to breathe slowly into a paper bag when you see it.
Second, I am going to go with something yogamum made me see — a plan has to be fun for it to be effective.
Third, I have to be clear about what I want to accomplish in December. And because this is paragraph three, and because three is such a good number (three princesses, three princes, three Billy Goats Gruff, three little pigs, three tenors, three flying dutchmen, three wise men, three sticks of butter, three cups of sugar) I’m going to stick to just three things I want to accomplish this month.
(1) I’d like to celebrate this holiday month in a sane, fun, book, music and outdoor oriented, non-self absorbed way. (Clearly, I’m going to have to refine point number one which I can see sinking under the weight of all those expectations.)
(2) I’d like to do something about getting my book and my stories out into the world.
(3) I would like to write a few pages every day or so.
These things have been on my mind, and I think getting them them accomplished through a plan of some kind is crucial. That is because all the other things I do, the things I calendar, like seeing my friends, and taking my children sixty zillion places, have been slipping through the chasm that is my current very distracted state, in which my goals have made my everyday busy life almost undoable. I have become a little like my computer — I can’t have more than one program open at a time and I am losing a lot of data. I have also been unreliable in my friendships and I will confess right now that one big impetus to getting these goals organized is so I can never, ever, ever again do what I did this Wednesday, which is stand up a lovely friend who was waiting for me to go and taste food (free food!) for a party we are organizing. How did this happen? A child got sick, I had to stay home from work, and I could only open that single program — the sick child/mom as doctor program — that day. So I dedicate my planning efforts to K, who may not forgive me, but who will be the catalyst behind my being a tad more reliable.
And I’m also going to make an un-list, which is a list of the things I won’t do, because they are not going to make me or anyone around me happy. Currently those include: cleaning obsessively, baking elaborate things, and spending a lot of time shopping.
In the shower, where I do all my planning (hence the fact that I have no actual paper plans, given the absence of waterproof notebooks and pens in my shower), it occurred to me that maybe a plan that only has something to do in each of these categories every three days (naturally) would be better than having every day full of stuff. I think my December plan — which I’ll post in a day or two — is going to have two blank days and one day with stuff on it. Because if there is anything I don’t want to have happen (besides getting the ‘flu, which is going around in a nasty form these days in Berkeley), it’s that I’ll feel like a loser on January 1 because I didn’t do my whole damned plan. Not good.
So, there you go. Now I’m going to tag a lot of people to talk about how they get themselves from an idea of something they would like to accomplish to the fact of that accomplishment, while also keeping their heads above water in their everyday life. And tomorrow, I’m going to tag a whole slew more. And the next day, it being the third day, I’m going to tag some more. And then I will rest; I mean, I will begin to do — in a relaxed way — a few things on my plan. If you post a picture of a plan, I’ll send you some fruitcake. And if you don’t like fruitcake, I’ll send you a lovely pencil. If I tagged you wrong and am sending people to the Old Navy website instead of yours, let me know. And heavens, if I didn’t tag you by the third day, well, I MEANT TO. Email me and tell me so. (And if you try to hide because you don’t want to show us your plan, because it is that beautiful, well I’ll smoke you out and make you.)
So here you go, planners of the blogworld. I want to see your plans.
Polaris and Mandarine, science-minded people who will have, I am sure, a great take on this subject
lilian, sweet, kind, funny, very, very smart, and a hero — because she is a library goddess and what librarians don’t know about good planning and organization is probably not worth knowing
yogamum, busy running a house full of people, and engaged in a lovely and inspiring yoga practice, and who’s got a lot on her mind these days with a sick father — there’s a woman who needs an un-plan, not a plan — and needs other people to do a little cooking for her. No planning for you, Ms. yogamum! Put your feet up.
Emily, who sees a lot of projects in her work as an editor and is a writer of chillingly effective stories and who sometimes suggests she is not organized but actually given what she gets accomplished must have a method to get there
Courtney, who swears to god she is going to get a plan together for her writing, but who actually would never, ever stop writing because she is that good, and that devoted
Charlotte, who gets tons of things done and has been known to do it all while still wearing her pajamas and is now writing a bunch of short stories that I know are going to be wonderful
Ann who manages to cook beautiful things while still photograhing all of New York City
Diana who gets up at 5 a.m. (god, I think it might be even earlier than that), to help deliver newspapers
Kristen and Lucette, who seem to have a secret about how a group of women together can get a lot of writing done
Eoin, who so generously shares what he knows and thinks about the publishing world, and has said some of the kindest, most gracious things a commenter has ever said on this blog, particulary at a time when I really needed that to happen.
litlove who thinks she doesn’t get a lot done but actually is prolific, inspiring and amazing
Helen, who raises an adorable son and is editing not one but TWO books
Kate, who teaches law and blogs so consistently and then last year gave the world a wonderful book of short stories
Archie who is brilliant, just brilliant, when it comes to words, and whose images of his Australia have made me see that part of the world in a way I love
Ingrid whose passion for pirates, and Bill Neighy and his cafe and movie-making and being in London is inspiring and lovely
Nils, who is clever and always interesting and self-effacing and fabulous
Edwin, whose observations about the surreal and ridiculous, about food and gardens, delight me every time I go to his site
Cam, who thinks and writes about life in such a clear way, and who comes over here and leaves interesting and thought-provoking comments
Emily, whose box of books landed in my office nearly a year ago and whom I think of every day when I see those editions on my shelf
Mary, my writing friend, whose wild book about the exploits of a cleptomaniac San Francisco lawyer and her Indian former-client, inspires me and makes me laugh….
My god. I’ve just realized how lucky I am to know all of you, how much you inspire me and make my life richer. I had to stop and save the many other tagees because, well, my fingers are starting to ache. I can see that I want to know how every single person who comes to this blog plans the many wonderful things they are up to in the world.