In a recent article, Greg McKeown examines “The More Bubble,” when we collectively overvalue an asset until the bubble bursts, and as we return to reality, we wonder what the fuss was all about in the first place. McKeown isn’t necessarily against having more or doing more, rather against having it all and doing it all, and this is beautifully described in Jim Collins’ characterization of “the undisciplined pursuit of more.”
At my MFA program, every student was required to submit a monthly reading, writing, and research plan for the semester. Certainly, if needed, changes were permitted, but the point was that the semester did not begin without focus.
I renewed this practice last year with mixed results. My monthly plans are still too ambitious for the time allocated, but I have learned a lot about what I can accomplish in a day, week, month, or several months. If I carry a task for months with very little action on it, it’s worth evaluating why. I also consider new tasks a little more carefully. It’s too easy to get carried away with reacting rather than executing.
But above all, this is helping me be specific about my long-term goals and assess my progress in the places of my writing practice that I am trying to grow. Just as chapbooks are a way to honor my writing, creating and reviewing these plans honor my time and choices.