Tuesday, December 3, 2013

"It is by will alone I set my mind in motion."

I ate too much pie.  Or drank too much eggnog.  Or something.  It had only been a week since I last put on a suit but for some reason, yesterday, it was way, way too tight.  I swung some kettle bells last night, didn’t eat a bag of chips before bed, and today I’m a bit more comfortable.  It looks like I’ll have to plan my cookie binges carefully this month.
Speaking of plans, you should have one.  (Smooth transition there.  Kenny G. better watch out.)  A plan is different from a goal in the same way that a map is different from a destination.  I’ve just finished Nano and had a plan to get that done, but that’s not the whole plan.

In the movie “Dune” there is a scene in which they talk about “plans within plans.”  That was a weird part of the film, but the concept is really very good.  You have a plan to get a specific task done, but that task is part of a larger plan.  The task (or goal) is not the end.  It may seem that you’re setting yourself up to never be done, but that’s not the case.  You’re setting yourself up to never be lost, without course or purpose.
I had a plan to get the job I have now.  Once I reached that I began working on where I wanted to be assigned, and then what sort of work I wanted to do.  I’m still working on “that next step” because I’m still employed, but now I’m also looking at what I want to do when I retire.  That’s why I blog.  It’s why I am writing so seriously.  I plan to write.  The closer I get to retiring, the more detail I have to have in that plan.  Sure I want to write, but what does that mean and how do I get there?
One of the tasks I have in that plan is to publish a novel before retirement.  That task requires its own plan.  A plan that included Nano but goes far beyond simply writing that many words in a month.  Nano was just a task in the plan to publish.
Looking at it this way helped me through Nano because even if I didn’t win, I was still working toward my publishing goal and I knew exactly where that fit in my vocational goal.  Recognizing that each page I wrote was a step closer to achieving the big, pie in the sky, goal helped me resist the urge to “take a break from the silly contest and play Plants v. Zombies.”
Now that Nano is done I can appreciate the accomplishment, and I am personally proud of making it – I had to overcome a few challenges to get there – but my work is only half finished on this story.  I need another 50k words before I can start the 2nd draft.  That doesn’t seem insurmountable.  I just hammered out 50k in a month.  (See yesterday’s post about proving to yourself you can do something…)
After the 2nd draft I’ll need readers that will give me high quality feedback – the sort of feedback that hurts.  As I write now, I know that some of what I’m wracking my brain over will be cast aside.  It can seem depressing, but in the overall scheme, it’s about making the work the best it can be.  With that as the plan, slogging along the path to get there isn’t so bad.
It’s sort of like driving in traffic.  Sometimes you want to just pull over and quit.  But you don’t.  If you did that you’d never get where you were going.  Are you playing Frisbee at the rest stop or staying in your lane ticking the miles off one by one?

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