Non-Linear Planning

The last couple of weeks, I took off to concentrate on the holidays and enjoy the company of my visiting mother and on-holiday husband.

Keeping Track

Keeping Track

It was very good for me.  Among other things, I thought of an idea for a novel that I’m very eager to start researching.  However, although this is (of course) what I want to work on more than anything else (because shiny/new is exciting), I have a list of other projects I’ve promised myself to work on.

So, Monday morning as I was moving from asleep to awake, I found my mind wandering toward how could I find time to work on a new project while not letting the older ones go stale?

And late Monday morning, when checking my Twitter feed, I came across a link from Kate Eliot to a piece by Amanda Hackwith on a bullet journal which may provide the solution to my difficulty.

What I particularly liked about this idea was how Ms. Hackwith has adapted the idea of a bullet journal (which I had to look up, since I had no idea what she meant) to the erratic pulse points of a writer’s life.  As she notes in her blog post:

“The life of a writer means I have a hundred things to keep track of at once, but not always on a precise day by day itinerary. If I stuck to the traditional appointments + daily to dos format, my days would be a constant repeat of something like ‘Write word count, Edit X, read, check email anxiously.’”

Well, did this ever sound familiar!  Last year I started keeping a list on a scrap of paper under my computer monitor so I wouldn’t forget to do the things I do every week – like write these Wanderings, work on Tangents with Alan, write the Friday Fragments, make sure photos are taken for above – as well as those things that crop up more erratically (like updating my website News and Appearances).

And, of course, whatever I’m writing, because I usually have something going on in one stage or another – often in multiple stages or other.

Ms. Hackwith has some neat ideas for how to adapt the bullet journal to the differing demands of a writer’s life.  I’ll definitely try some, adapt others.  I already keep a journal for what I’m reading, but a list of books I’d like to read is a nice idea.

I also liked her idea of listing accomplishments.  On that slip of paper I keep under my monitor, I make checkmarks each time I do a repetitive task (work on a story, respond to a Tangent, edit a manuscript) and I cross off completed tasks.  And at the end of the week, I toss the slip of paper and start over.  This has led to a sense of Sisyphean toil.  The same jobs crop up, but with no record of what I’ve done over time, there’s very little sense of accomplishment.

An on-going record – like the one I keep for my reading – would give me that.  Good idea!

When I’m working on a long project, I keep track of word count.  However, I’ve found that when I’m not, I fail to keep any steady record of what I’ve been doing.  This leads to a (completely fallacious) sense that I’ve done nothing.

Right now, I’m contemplating a variety of projects.  I have a novel that’s pretty much done, but will need a final polish.  I want to get some more of my backlist out as e-books.  And then there’s the new Shiny New Idea.  Oh, and a couple more short story ideas…  And research…  And…

I think a non-linear method of tracking what I’ve done, as well as what I’d like to do, will be a good thing at this stage in my life.

An investment in a journal designed for flexibility seems like a good way to not only keep track, but to remind myself that – unlike Sisyphus – I am getting somewhere.

3 Responses to “Non-Linear Planning”

  1. henrietta abeyta Says:

    It can help with avoiding danger, it can help with small accomplishments, it often helps with cooperation, in this case you’ve mentioned it could help with keeping your personal promise or fresh resolution, it even helps peace increase. A journal designed for flexibility sounds quite reasonable Jane.

  2. Pati Nagle Says:

    Jane – I started keeping a bullet journal last May. It’s helped enormously with organizing my life in general, and it’s also useful for writing tasks and just musing about projects.

    One trick I picked up from another BJ fan is a monthly tracker – just a chart you could make with graph paper. Rows are days of the month, columns are specific tasks I want to do each day (e.g., write my minimum word count). Each task gets a different color, and I color in the square for that task on that day when I’ve completed it. I end up with a rainbow bar chart showing my accomplishments for the month.

    If you want pictures, I can send.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: