Thursday, March 20, 2014

The To-Do List

I have a bad habit of making big plans.

It's a bad habit because, although I can almost always follow-through (eventually), I tend to get overwhelmed in the meantime.

Take my yard, for example. It's not huge, but when you break it down into it's composite parts, I have a parking strip, four flower beds, a front yard, a back yard, a rose arbor, and a garden box that I should be taking care of. And every spring since I've bought my house, I get really fired up in April and start weeding and fertilizing everything -- but as someone with minimal gardening skills, it has never really come to much. At some point during the summer, I suddenly realize the magnitude of a parking strip, four flower beds, a front yard, a back yard, a rose arbor, and a garden box, all of which look terrible, and realize there's no way I will ever dig myself out of this hole.

I am hoping I have learned my lesson this year, and am focusing my efforts on only two things: improving the lawn in the back yard and properly xeriscaping the parking strip. But even with those limited goals, it's hard not to remember all the failures of summers past and feel like any effort or money expended will just be a waste.

Organizing my kitchen, post-remodel. Eating healthy. Working out. Saving money. These are things that should be easy -- things that are, in fact, easy -- but that I can't think about too much, or else I'll realize how poorly I am doing at each of them and lose my enthusiasm. Cue a weekend of marathoning The Americans and eating Ben and Jerry's. 

Weirdly, I have no problem keeping my goals little when it comes to lawyerin. Take one thing off the To-Do List at a time, whittle it down bit by bit. First this project, then the next one. Assess the To-Do List at the beginning of the day, and again at the end. Do a few little things whenever you can, and it will result in a big thing eventually.

When it comes to my writing habit, however, I (very unfortunately) tend to fall more into the gardening camp than the lawyering camp.

I had a goal for 2013 -- finish drafting two more books. This weekend, when my busy season at work simmered down, I opened up my drafting files to assess my progress so far.

Would you like to know how many works-in-progress I currently have in various states of beginnings, middles, and ends?

(I'll warn you. It's embarrassing.)  





That is SIXTEEN ideas for novels that have been mulled over, outlined, partially drafted, and left in a dropbox folder titled simply "projects."

And in my defense, two actually are near-complete stages. If I could focus on those two, I could meet my 2013 goal, just six months late.

But those fourteen other files just sit there, like an unpruned rose arbor, reminding me that I have dug myself a hole that will be very, very, very difficult to climb out of. And (as much as I hate admitting this -- both out of personal pride, and the fear that someday an agent or editor will find this blog post and realize how pathetically inefficient I can be) the feeling of being in a giant hole makes it very, very, very difficult for me to focus on little things, whether it's xeriscaping a parking strip or completing one draft that is really only 10,000ish measly words from being done.

I know this post is a bit of a downer. I wish I had a happier note to end on.

But sometimes you just have to admit you're in the hole before you can start to climb out.


  1. Wow. Sixteen IS kind of a lot. But hey, that's sixteen ideas that you can eventually turn into awesome novels. You've got several years of your writing career in your draft folder. I'm a little bit jealous.

    1. Assuming they get finished. Which is a big assumption to make at this point :p