Writing or Life – Do You Know What’s Around the Corner?

I always thought it would be wonderful to have such a well-constructed game plan that it would be easy to plan for the future because I would know what the future would likely bring. Silly me.

In life as well as in my writing & video course work I’ve learned that planning is more about setting my intention than it is about where I actually end up. Maybe the fault, dear reader, lies with my willingness to change direction so easily, or perhaps I lack a certain strength of will. Or maybe . . . we’re just meant to be flexible.

I’ve always loved having plans; before I went to England back in the day, I created a little notebook with every place that I wanted to see. I spent weeks working on the notebook so I wouldn’t miss a thing. Guess what? I forgot the notebook and while it sat happily at home, I traveled happily through the UK, loving every moment. So did my plans work out or did I set a good enough intention that I had fun in spite of my forgetfulness?

Which takes me to writing. If you’ve been a newsletter reader for quite some time you’ll remember that I took the month of September off last year to work on a cozy mystery. That plan didn’t work out the way I wanted. But it did open the door to some powerful ah-ha moments.

My Question for You

The question I want to ask you today is this: Is planning more about setting intention or more about making a plan and sticking to it, regardless?

Here’s why I ask. I recently launched The 15-Minute Writer online video course.  [See this post to get my discount coupon code to get the course for $10 instead of the regular $79]  The course has garnered a lot of attention, not to mention some fantastic reviews. And it also attracted something else: inquiries from two colleagues who now want me to create something with them as joint ventures, which I’m considering. And another request for me to write a guest post for a popular blog. None of these things was in my game plan.

So I’m left wondering: is planning about setting goals (intentions) or about life requiring flexibility? A question about which I’d really love to hear your thoughts.  Please comment below.


  • Sarah Johnson

    I used to think I could plan everything but honestly, where I’ve ended up is far better than anything I could have planned! So I guess I’ll vote on the side of setting intention and in letting the Universe take me there or somewhere even better. My plans seem so puny compared to what actually comes about.

  • cheryl taylor

    I start out planning. Then life gets in the way – or perhaps whatever guides my life. 🙂

  • Angela Rose Weber

    Hi Nancy, great question!

    I have recently come to the conclusion that planning is foolish because I never know what is going to happen day-to-day, and whenever I do plan something I rarely end up following through with it. Of course, at the same time plans gone-awry, have often led me to exactly the place I needed to be. I just didn’t know I needed to be there.

    Success seems to be about processes. We all have to go through certain processes to get there, and planning seems to be part of that process, even though it often doesn’t lead us to where we thought we were going. There’s a lot going on in our subconscious that we don’t know about, and planning seems to be more of a conscious effort.

  • Nancy

    Cheryl – maybe it’s not a question of life getting in the way. Maybe it’s a question of life opening UP the way??

  • Nancy

    Angela – what a brilliant thought! I know exactly what you mean and couldn’t agree more. Our minds are truly mysterious creatures.

  • Hans Maerker

    Hi Nancy, I think Angela is right. Well at least to some part. Where I totally disagree is, that planning is useless. Sure, there is always something unexpected that requires a diversion. Yet, without a plan we just drift along. One has to have at least the ‘finish line’ and some point in between in mind. At least that’s my personal opinion, and may not work for everybody. 🙂

  • Nancy

    Hi Hans,

    I agree that planning is not useless. I think it’s the plans that set the stage, at least for me. Where I find her comments in line with my own thinking is that I tend to end up someplace better than I had planned. But the more I think about it, the more convinced I am that planning is about setting intention more than anything else. I am a great goal-setter, but for some reason “things” tends to come about that are wonderful, but that I never foresaw.

  • Fred West

    Making a Plan is just about being organized, but leave some gaps in the Plan to allow for spontaneity to occur. Just like large writing projects, you need an Outline to start from, but to leave yourself open when characters surprise you on the paths they take.

  • Nancy


    You know, when it comes to writing fiction (and I’m a novice at it) I NEVER seem to know what a character is going to do. However, in non-fiction, I TRY to stick to an outline – – but temptation does (at times) strike! LOL.

  • Carmen

    Being someone who’s always flying by the seat of her pants, I’m working hard on training my planning skills. I know (from experience)… that the MAGIC is in the mix!
    Sometimes, just intent, no matter how powerful and true, is not enough.

  • Nancy

    Carmen – I’ve done a lot of seat-of-the-pants flying too, that’s for sure! And I totally agree – the magic is in the mix!


  • Carol Wilson

    I think it’s a combination of both: Setting your goals and allowing flexibility while achieving your goals. Both can be accomplished by having the determination to meet each goal.

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