Stories from a life in progress.

Who knew?

A couple of days ago I wrote here that I don't know what I'm doing, but I'm doing something anyway.  Today I can say I still don't know what I'm doing, but I know how to do it better.

That might need some explanation.

It's funny how instructions and advice you hear lays around in the back corners of the mind or in the wilds of one's bookshelves, waiting months or years for its time.  I've always had a niggling sense of wanting to accomplish something, to BE SOMEONE via my achievements, and while I have never actually gone about doing that (and I find my perspective about it changing with time and experience), I have read a good number of books and articles about how to be organized and how to do planning and make goals and make further goals and all of that kind of nonsense.  I haven't put a lot of it into practice, but the ideas hang around.  And suddenly I find those ideas swimming up into my consciousness and quietly taking over.

During my 40-day writing game, I experienced what it feels like to have a specific goal, to have a clear schedule, to do steady work, and to successfully finish.  It was energizing and motivating, and at the end I was ready to take on big awesome stuff.

Except it didn't happen.  I lost momentum, didn't finish what I intended to do next, and have been waffling around ever since.

I'm not saying I haven't done a thing with the past five months.  I've actually learned a lot and been making serious internal changes.  But I haven't set to work.  I haven't been writing, I haven't been looking for new assignments, blah de blah.  I've taken after these things in a desultory way, not really pushing forward.

I learned my lesson, and then forgot it.  Without structure I don't get anywhere.  I need a plan, a schedule, a silly game, something that tells me what to do next.  When I have clear steps to follow, I naturally get moving.  If I have a lot of free time and vague, open-ended intentions, I just don't.

For most of my life, my structure was externally set.  School is all about doing assignments set by other people, until almost the very end.  I found working for "the man" to be very similar.  No one ever taught me specifically that I need to have plans and structure and boundaries.  They just drew them in around me.  Without having those plans handed over to me, I've floundered.

I don't want to work for "the man" anymore.  But I still want to work.  I want to get stuff done, and I'm finally figuring out that I can make up the plans and other whatnot to do it -- more than that, that I need to make these things.  I have to have a plan, or I just sit and twiddle, usually feeling bad about it.

So I'm doing it.  I have a blog-writing plan.  I'm constructing a freelance-writing plan.  I'm making up plans for other projects I want to do.  I am creating real steps and writing them on my schedule and crossing them off when I do them.  It's actually doing some good.  Plans, goals, and all that nonsense -- turns out it all really does help.  Who knew?

(Stay tuned for the derailment, when I forget to follow the plans and have to drag myself up out of feeling glumpy and sad because I'm sitting around again, followed by the triumphant return when I learn this lesson all over again and get back on track.  See, I do too know myself.  Sometimes.  About a few things.  What were we talking about?  Oh never mind.)