I have a love/hate relationship with organization and planning. Deep down inside, there’s a girl who would love to throw out the clutter, sort and color-code what’s left, make Excel spreadsheets for everything, and follow a perfectly scheduled agenda filled with just the right balance of productivity and relaxation.
Unfortunately, she doesn't get her way often because I’m just so incredibly lazy. And I've sort of trained myself to stay that way. For example, I actually have a decent tolerance for messes — I'm good at ignoring things or assuming apathy, because if I notice and care, I might have to do something about it. (I'm a big believer in the conservation of energy; that's why I'm so fond of sleeping.)
But every once in a while, I'll be ambushed by a sudden onslaught of energy and motivation. That's when I do things like alphabetize books on my shelf by last name of author and then check that the spine of each book is exactly the same distance from the edge of the bookshelf (with a ruler, of course, so it's accurate). Or reorder the clothes in my closet (well, once I move them there, anyway) seasonally and by item type, then catalogue it all in a spreadsheet along with attributes that include brand, color, length, care instructions, occasion, and how frequently I wear it.
Thankfully, these episodes are brief, and soon things devolve back into organic chaos. I try to do some light organizing here and there, but I basically allow entropy to run amok until the next time I'm overtaken by the urge to bring order to my surroundings. (I was particularly susceptible during midterm or finals season; funny coincidence, that.)
For a long time, that's how it went with my writing. I'd think about it from time to time, perhaps write a character study or jot down a few plot points in a burst of creativity, only to forget the project soon after. Since I wasn't all too dedicated and had little idea what I was doing, I didn't make much progress beyond a lot of daydreaming.
So now I'm going to try something different. I'm going to leverage my organization and planning skills to map out a strategic plan of attack on my novel project. Hopefully, breaking down my goal into smaller steps will make it seem less overwhelming. Plus there's something so satisfying about completing items on a checklist (why yes, I've added completed items to my to-do list before, just so I can cross it off — it's important to reward yourself with that sense of accomplishment!). And knowing what's next will keep me from feeling lost and help me make things easier for my future self.
Of course, having an awesome master plan doesn't guarantee success. I still have to carry it out, which is... not my strong suit. I'm hoping that blogging my progress will provide accountability and force me to remember my goal instead of brushing it off. (You guys will help, right?)
I'll be unveiling my game plan in my next post. It's more of a general overview, actually, so I'll probably have to come up with sub-sections with detailed checklists and a better schedule and... well, I'll worry about it when I get there. Stay tuned!
Where are you on the messy/organized spectrum?