Friday, March 18, 2016

Writing? Put it on the to-do list

Look, I get it, no one likes to-do lists. They have a bad reputation for being the tools of controlling individuals who have trouble letting go. “No, we can’t do that. It’s not on the list, see?”

But fuck it, I LOVE to-do lists. Mostly because I wouldn’t get anything done without them. Want to know something else? Something that might make you want to throw up in your mouth a little?

I also make to-not-do lists. Like, shit I need to avoid. They mostly look like this:

TO-NOT-DO
  • Dick around on the internet (there's nothing for you there)
  • Nap
  • Watch more than 1 hour of TV
  • Wallow in self-pity

And yes, I re-write my to-not-do list every day in my planner. Why? I’m a writer who works from home, I need a proverbial boss to pass by my non-existent cubicle every now and then to make sure I’m being productive. With my planner positioned right next to my keyboard all I have to do is glance over and, “OH EXCUSE ME SIR NO I WASN’T GETTING ON FACEBOOK OK BYE.”

But my to-do lists are honestly just as effective, even if my kids have been conspiring to keep alternating weeks to get sick while my husband’s deployment drags on for what feels like forever. One of the reasons that to-do lists seem to be shunned by creative people is the constrains that they can place on the creative process. There are many writers and artists who feel as if they can’t get down to work until inspiration strikes.

I’m of a different variety. Basically, force me to sit down and I’ll hammer it all out right then and there. For me, sitting down to the computer or the notebook is my spark of inspiration. Kind of. Look, if I don’t make myself do it, I’ll fall back on the old reliable, “Oh, I’ll get to that when I have a wider open schedule.” I never, ever have a wide open schedule. No one does.


To-do lists haven’t always been my best friend, and to-not-do lists are an even more recent addition to my game plan, but they’ve become invaluable assets to my writing goals and career. I might not mark off every item, especially when someone (not naming names but TOTALLYMYKIDS) is sick again, but the lists keep me focused and moving forward.

What are your feelings on to-do lists?

6 comments:

  1. I like to-do lists too; it's definitely satisfying to cross off a task I've completed. I even make to-do lists when I have time off from work, because then I make a list of all the things I want to do for fun. That way I won't spend the whole time feeling indecisive.

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    1. Oooh, that's a good idea! My off-day to-do lists usually consist of household chores. Satisfying to cross off, but nowhere near as fun.

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  2. I think napping is an ideal use of time for a writer, just think of all that amazing 'planning' you can do!

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    1. Oh I so wish that napping was that productive for me, haha.

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  3. Wait, some people don't like to-do lists? That's just crazy. I've never tried a not-to-do list. I might add making one to my list for tomorrow.

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    1. I actually used to be one of them! Now? I can't let them go.

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