Sips with Sophie: Happy New Year and Confessions of a Plannerphobic!

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“Tomorrow is always fresh, with no mistakes in it.”

– L.M. Montgomery, Anne of Green Gables

As we plunge forward into 2021, I’m reminded that each day presents a new opportunity to relish in untraversed landscape. Whether we have a schedule full of tasks and events waiting to be crossed off a list or a blank canvas empty of demands and waiting to be discovered, each moment from the hour we rise builds upon the next until we return to the respite of that last checkmark of the day.

In October, I purchased this Day Designer planner for 2021. I was feeling optimistic at the time both for the new year and for the potential to fill it. I’m hard pressed to use a planner. Lord knows I try but I have this condition I’ll call planner-phobia. For years, I have bought plenty of planners only to either give up entirely due to unexpected life changes or my procrastination problem causing me to skip days which frustrated me.

I’ve never liked the idea of diaries or planners that have the date preprinted. It makes me feel boxed in and committed. While I crave structure to a degree, I feel suffocated and stifled if my days or tasks are too rigid and I have no freedom to move about at will. And don’t even think about using anything other than a pencil!

I’m not vehemently opposed to structure. I just like my structure a bit loose like my jeans.

I’ll put my condition another way. I am known to think perpetually outside the box. The box is merely a suggestion, in my opinion. Unless you’re talking CPR or other lifesaving measures. That’s pretty important.

Don’t misunderstand me. I do live and die by my calendar. If it’s not in there, it’s probably not happening. This is where I rely heavily on digital calendars and reminders. Appointments, events, bills due are all in my phone and now also in my planner for reinforcement.

A planner requires writing it down. As I began listing my goals for the year, i.e., financial, fitness, work, writing, etc., I began to think about my pre-existing condition with planner-phobia. I realized that it carries over into my writing style.

Planner or pantster? Or plantster?

I’m more of a plantster I realized. While I can plan events in my sleep, writing is another matter. There’s that wide open landscape again.

It dawned on me that the reason I have a planner-phobia is the same reason I don’t like outlining my work. I don’t want to feel trapped and cornered into a story if a different twist or ending suddenly appeals to me. I want my characters to surprise me. The logical part of my brain can create new pathways and adventures in my story that make sense and tie together or be left loose by design.

My stories usually start off with a beginning and as I’m going along I figure out the ending. Is that so wrong?

When I go on vacation, I usually have a list of the activities and places I want to visit but I don’t schedule out each day to the minute. As long as I can check most of them off the list, I’m content. It’s the same with writing.

So, confession time. Are you a planner phobic? Are you a planner, pantster or plantster?

There are no right or wrong answers and for goodness sakes, no judgments. Just as each of us have a different learning style, us writers should respect and encourage each other to keep pressing on in our writing journey.

Cheers to a new year full of possibilities and opportunities and to using an ink pen in my predated planner! (After all, there’s always white-out. 😉 )

Happy New Year!

Sophie

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