“If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.”
That phrase has been chirping through my mind recently like a clockwork cuckoo bird. Planning for success is relevant in the three big chunks of time-fillers in my life right now, business, fitness, and writing, so I often think about plans for one thing or the other throughout the day. For my workouts, I plan when I will exercise, what lifts I’ll be executing, and the food I’ll be eating before and after. For business, I plan when to hold meetings, what will be said, who will say them (along with a lot of other nitty gritty things). For writing…well, that’s a little tricky. I plan when I will write, but that’s pretty much it.
With writing, I don’t really have a physical feedback loop that will tell me that I’ve made progress. With my exercises, I can see physical changes; see that I’m lifting heavier weights, and that I’m running faster. I can test selling techniques and education materials in my business, and see how successful it is through customer interaction and overall sales. Sure, I can count pages or words, but really, quality is more important than overall quantity, and when I’m just trying to get words onto a rough draft, I know that I’m not getting close to quality writing.
Well, what can I, a writer-hoping-to-be-a-published-novelist, do to set myself up for success? Sure, planning when to write, and then actually showing up to write is a big thing, and one that I can take care of fairly well. However, my thought process around planning, and then executing those plans, are not as cut-and-dry to this facet of my life as it is in business and fitness. And, I think that’s the issue right there. The execution of those other parts of me is fairly simple once everything is planned out. (I mean, once I decide that I need to do squats on a given night, it’s just a matter of getting under the bar and, well, squatting.)
With writing, the plan is simple: show up and write. The execution is another thing all together. It’s like choosing to face being beat up and torn up everyday; choosing to experience lifetimes and emotions over and over again; and, on top of that, ensure that those experiences are written in a coherent, engaging way, free of typos.
So, my little birdie squawking about creating plans needs to turn into a cheerleader or coach cheering me on to write everyday. The plan will of course remain the same: show up and write. But, the amount of dedication and drive it takes to see this process through till “The End” needs a whole new frame of mind for me.
Instead of the distant planner, for this, I will need to take on a more down and dirty persona. And, I will need to embrace a new affirmation, a new word for this facet of myself. Relentless. Yes, that will do just fine.
“Tho’ much is taken, much abides; and tho’
We are not now that strength which in old days
Moved earth and heaven, that which we are, we are;
One equal temper of heroic hearts,
Made weak by time and fate, but strong in will
To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.”
From Ulysses, Tennyson