Did my post on planning make you think about changing how much planning you do?
Did a gremlin (or six) turn up to tell you what a big risk that would be?
This is not surprising. After all writing is an important part of your work. A lot is riding on it. Maybe no one will die but what if you end up getting less written?
Experiment with something else
Is there something with lower stakes where you could experiment with how much planning you do?
For example, I’ve worked on this with quilting. I tell myself (and my gremlins) that I am just playing with fabric. I set some basic parameters and then practice doing things that are uncomfortable.
This quilt started out as an experiment in pairing florals with florals. (I’m not a huge fan of florals. And my rules gremlin has a whole lot of rules about what goes together).
I started with a plan that limited me to floral prints in my stash, and decided on a 9-patch block. I didn’t even have a plan for how big a quilt I would make or what it would be used for.
At a later stage I planned how to lay out those blocks. I saw that I had almost enough to make a throw and made a plan for getting to a specific size. Then I decided on fabric for the sashing and borders.
How this works
Your relationship to planning is probably very similar across all different kinds of work. How you approach a writing project is probably not that different from how you approach cooking a meal, making a quilt, teaching a class, or …
The gremlins that turn up when you try to change how much you plan before you get started doing the thing, will be the same gremlins. However, some tasks are more important to you and thus the risks seem higher.
By experimenting with different ways of planning you can learn more about what the gremlins are really worried about. You can find evidence of what works and what doesn’t. You can experiment.
You don’t want to experiment on high value, high risk stuff. That is very stressful. You want to pick something low risk.
If you don’t quilt…
The key is to pick a low risk thing. My quilt was using fabric I didn’t much care about that I wasn’t entirely sure how I acquired. It didn’t seem like a “waste” of fabric. No one needed a quilt to keep warm. The time I spent sewing was actually time spent experimenting with planning.
What kinds of activities could you use? I will start a list, please add other possibilities in the comments:
- Journalling (a lower stakes form of writing?)
- Blogging (a lower stakes form of writing?)
Try it and see for yourself.
This post was edited July 14, 2015.