It's funny. I put up a vote for my next blog topic on Twitter days ago, and I've been thinking about what to write for that long. Then some news this morning gave me a slightly altered perspective to think about, too.
IThe topic that was most popular on my Twitter poll was technically "Plotting Out 2018 Goals." (If you're less interested in this bit, glide right on down to "II." It's all good!) I've been working on my goals list since November. (Making lists soothes me.) I'd gotten down what projects I wanted/needed to work on. I figured out how long it'd take for each (by, for example, taking into account that when I'm in the first draft of a novel I hold myself to 1,000 words per day, barring Really Bad Days™). Then I saw when I'd need to give myself a light workload, like when I have finals at the end of the semester, or for my daughter's birthday, so that I can give myself those breaks. From there I hammered out when I'd work on what. I got it all into an app I downloaded on my computer.
And, one week into the new year, the app decided that I couldn't use it anymore or access any of that data because my "free trial" was up and apparently there's no free option, I guess. In the interest of NOT paying $50 for the year, I went out and picked up a lovely pink flowery planner and filled all my goals in there. (Luckily I had hand-written copies of things. I was enraged enough as it was.) So far, I've been mostly hitting my goals no problem, with the occasional item one day late. I know my pacing, I know my limits, and I'm working with that. We'll see how well that holds up once in semester starts in about a week.
III listed out the final goals in the back of my planner so that I can keep an eye on the big picture. It includes finishing three first drafts of novels, one of which will get a draft two revision. I'm also completing a poetry collection, taking care of professional/PhD stuff, writing five stories, writing three articles, and sending to lit mags, agents, and publishers. It's A LOT. Like, a lot a lot. I understand this. I pride myself on my ambition. I know that I may not make it through every single goal on this list. (See "III" below for an example of changing plans.) I have my priorities, and if I even accomplish a few of these projects, I'll still likely be surpassing what I did in 2017.
But this is when I came to the realization of the title of this post--your planner is the perfect place for optimism. Of course you shouldn't expect loads more than you can handle, and you shouldn't feel guilty when you fall short. You might. This is just a thing that happens, especially if, like me, you have anxiety and/or depression. But if that old cliché about "dreaming big" has a place anywhere, it's got to be the book you keep with all your bright-eyed ideas of what the year will bring, right? And maybe ambition looks like finally finishing a novel, or reading 100 books, or finishing five knitting projects--whatever the case is, a planner or a notebook is low risk. You're never obligated to show it to anyone. You can ignore it if it gets to be overwhelming or guilt-inducing. And it might just serve as a great place to organize your time while keeping an eye on the bigger things you want to accomplish. And this brings me to...
IIIThis morning, my husband had to ask me if I was okay because I looked about to throw up all over my laptop. In truth it was good news, though I needed to get past some stress of it initially. I received some really generous and helpful feedback on a manuscript that I've been sending around (my queer YA fairy tale). So now I, naturally, want to use that to make the book better. However, I saw the list of revision suggestions and my mind immediately went to "O NO." Before I could even catch up with it, my brain was trying to sort out how to fit this into my well-oiled machine of a year. So I opened up my planner, got two sets of revisions weaved in with my other goals, and suddenly felt able to appreciate the opportunity for what it was. I'm someone who responds well to structure and planning (especially if I'm the one doing the structuring and planning), so it takes me a hot minute to adapt to organizational changes. Luckily, my husband wouldn't stop telling me all the good things about this until I realized that, while this was more work, it was exactly the kind of work I'd been looking for.
And, after a soothing cup of coffee, I know that that's definitely the case. It just took me a little time to re-calibrate.
I'm really glad that I thought to write in my planner in pencil.