Lists and Me

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?

8 thoughts on “Lists and Me

  1. I sometimes make lists, but I’m not really a list maker. Never even thought of using a list for writing. I don’t know why. Whenever I make a list I feel good about my accomplishments at the end of the day. In my mind many list makers are firstborns and I’m in the middle. That’s my excuse. But I dream of a time when I’ll use lists more frequently.

    • I’m definitely a first born; in fact, I’m the only born. So maybe I have an extreme version of the list-maker syndrome? Whatever the reason, it’s part of my makeup, and like you, I feel good about my accomplishments at the end of a ‘list day’–which is what my tomorrow is going to be. : )

  2. Oh you sound so much like me! I do the same things. But I also have been diagnosed with a mild case of OCD because I write lists over and over again. When I’m not obsessing over these lists (yes, I actually do that when I’m stressed out) I find that they do help me focus on what I need to accomplish in a day or in a project.

    And I am the middle child, only girl, super duper over achiever. So I don’t know what that means.

    • It’s nice to know I’m not alone! In fact, I edited today’s list about 10 minutes ago–and started writing up tomorrow’s. Now if I could just get down to the writing!!

    • I don’t have an iAnything (sigh), so I’m strictly a paper list maker for now. But there’s a new cellphone on my horizon (yay!), so there’s hope for a list-app-filled future. Bring it on!

  3. I make lists when I go shopping and when I am packing to travel. I never thought of making a list for writing. I think I will try it and see if it helps me.

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