There are those people who make lists and those who don’t. I must admit that I find the latter very hard to understand. For me, lists are an integral part of my life and I am not sure how well I would function without them.
I make lists of things to do, to buy, to take on holiday and what has to be done at the last minute before going away. That is good one as it saves that horrible feeling of panic as we are about to join the motorway and I wonder if I had indeed switched off the boiler, or locked the front door. If it’s been ticked off the list, which I have in my pocket, then I’ve done it.
When planning a novel, I list every chapter and most of the key points in each one. It is not until I have this that I start writing. Of course, this is only a rough outline of what is going to happen and as the book progresses the list is amended, sometimes even torn up and started afresh. My latest WIP had so many lists, both on the computer and on paper, that I lost count.
Having something of a butterfly mind, or rather being a very creative person who can rarely resist the temptation to follow an exciting new thread and move on from one project to the next without finishing the first, I find that lists keep me on track.
Today, I am going to write my blog for Authors’ Electric, work on my novel, then send a number of writing related emails. When all this has been done, I’ll be free to get on with the rest of the things on my list.
Making a list of boring, everyday stuff means that it gets done. It also works for the jobs I find stressful, or intimidating as the pressure to cross them off tends to outweigh the fear and, once I start, I invariably find that what I was nervous about actually wasn’t that scary.
My list, therefore, keeps me efficient and focussed, plus a feeling of satisfaction; a metaphorical pat on the back.
The downside is, and there is a downside to this most favourite of activities, that lists can also prove limiting.
After experimenting with various ways of working, I have found what works best is to allocate a set amount of time for my writing each day. Top of the list in my diary is to write for an hour. Which is great, except that some days I could write for a lot longer. I could, in fact, spend all morning working on the novel, or the short story, but, because it’s been marked as done, there is something in my brain that resists doing more.
I think the answer is to schedule in a number of blocks of time and not cross the last one off until the end of the day.
After I’ve posted this blog, I’ll go and put that top of my things to do tomorrow.