I confess. I’m a list maker. I love making lists because I really enjoy crossing things off them when the jobs are done. In fact, it’s so bad that if I get part way through my day and realize that I have completed tasks that I didn’t write on the list—like making a phone call for a dentist appointment or putting a load of laundry in—I add those items to the list, just so I can cross them off.
A good time for me to write my list is just before I go to bed. It’s the best way for me to avoid lying awake worrying that some the things I have to do the next day will be forgotten over night. (I’m a worrier by nature, so anything that can short-circuit the worry reflex is good by me.)
I make lists when I’m writing, too, especially in the early stages. I make lists of possible names for characters, hobbies or special skills they might have, places they might have visited or lived, things they might carry in their pockets or purse. I write down just anything I think of. Some items on the list will get scooped up because they seem just right for my character or make me ask good questions about my character that add a needed dimension. Other things on the list might be picked up by secondary characters and the rest languish unclaimed until another story comes along. I use coloured markers and pens for these lists, too, because I find ideas at the brainstorming stage come more readily when I’m not working with black and white.
Are you a list maker, too? How do you use lists when you are writing?