Plan as We Go January

Hey. Hi. Hello there. Here we are in the second week of January, first full week, and for those of us who are into the whole planning thing, this is the big show. This is where the rubber meets the road, or rubber cement meets the paper. At the very least, where the pen meets the paper. While some aspects of planning tick all the tried and true boxes, this year, there is also some uncharted territory.

Last year, I waffled between ring binders and traveler’s notebooks (rings vs strings, the eternal struggle) and was admittedly snobby about discbound systems, including but not limited to Happy Planner. This year? I am actively designing my own discbound planner. Probably printables at first, because manufacturing these things is far outside my pay grade at the moment, but the fact that I am researching tools and costs and components, that’s a very new thing.

That kind of makes sense, because this year is full of a lot of new things, so doing new things the old way is probably not the wisest approach. I have one notebook for current projects that are active: my contemporary romances with Melva Michaelian, my historical romances on my own, and the uncharted (for me) wilds of starting a Patreon. How much time do I have, how can I best spend it, and what has the chance of being a decent return? Since my chosen field is that of commercial fiction, there is a real chance that the right answer is “ahaha, none of it,” but it could also be “never try, never know,” and that’s the view I naturally take.

2019 was, in many ways, a dumpster fire. That’s in the past. 2020 is only six days in, and the better I plan, and carry out those plans, the better I feel. It’s not so much finding a system that works for me so much as creating it as I go. That means paying attention wo what comes naturally versus giving myself headaches trying to shove myself into some sort of box that I think I’m supposed to do. Beginner’s mind is essential in endeavors like this.

What seems to be working best for me when I start a new notebook or planner, is to carry the thing around, empty, for a few days, and then take note of what I wish it had inside it. Using a system that I have never used before, aka discbound, fits well with that mindset, at least for me. I love that the pages aren’t stuck in place, and if I want to move something to a different section, or a different book, I can do that, no problem.

Yesterday, Housemate came to the conclusion that she is a mini size Happy Planner person, and gave me her classic size planner from last year, mostly unused, and the classic size Happy Notes (same system, notebook paper instead of planner paper.) I sat there, looking at them for a minute, with a little bit of a Christmas Morning feeling (what planner geek doesn’t want this sort of thing dropped in their lap?) before I started to think about possibilities.

What was I going to do with a notebook that has twelve sections? Well, take the old planner pages out, obviously (and set them aside because there is this cool tutorial by Sarra Canon) and then stare at the empty tabs and think about what I want to have in there. At the moment, I’m thinking it could be a catchall for future projects that are still in the idea stage, where I can put notes, pictures, etc, as they come to me, and then they’ll be there when it’s time to actually start the writing.

That’s the thing that’s newest about how I want to approach writing this year. It’s time to Get Stuff Done, push past the Hypercritical Gremlins as best I can and remember what it felt like to throw the movies in my head onto the page, without paying attention to what could go wrong. That’s still kind of scary, but it’s scarier to think of never getting the stories and characters who are as real to me as people I can see and hear and touch, and introducing them to readers.

Since I do well with this kind of structure, my plan (hah) is to focus on one slot per month to give a closer look into what I’m doing, planning/notebook-wise. Some of that may end up on Patreon, and we’ll figure out what works, together. One area I’m keeping in focus for this early stage is to record the ideas that I’ve been carrying around for a while, that I would like to see all the way through. Something tells me I may surprise myself along the way.

How about you? What systems do you use for reading or writing? Pull up a chair in the comments, and share.

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