Organizing is what you do
before you do something,
so that when you do it,
it is not all mixed up.
[A. A. Milne]
My office has bookcases on each of three walls. A row of post-it notes line up along the middle shelf of the case opposite my chair. Today there are seven notes—one for each of my major projects. Each note has bullet points. I delight in crossing off items, and celebrate when I finish a note altogether.
I think list making might be genetic—I inherited the trait from my mama. When I was a child, I dreaded her lists of chores but, as an adult, I grew to appreciate the specificity of knowing what she needed me to do for her. When she died at age ninety five, I found her to-do list next to her bed. It was comforting in my grief to be able to finish her list for her.
Lists serve several purposes for me. They assuage my fear of dropping the ball on something I promised to do. They keep me focused and help me concentrate on the tasks at hand. They help me set priorities for using my work time. And when there are so many that I need to start using another shelf, I remind myself not to take on more than I can reasonably accomplish. My foibles lurk under these purposes. Without lists, I tend to dither my time away and forget what I set out to accomplish.
So it is with writing. If I am composing something brief, my list is in my head. If I am composing something long, complex or multifaceted, I write an outline that looks like an organizational chart. This is especially helpful if I am working with another person, or when I am writing something that will take several months to complete. Breaking a project into small tasks makes it less daunting. I often overcome writer’s block by making a list.
You just might have a bit of Rachel Misegades in ya yet! 🙂
I have my lists on my Palm and move the things I need to do every week from one week to the next when they are completed. I love not havning to rewrite them.
I’m in the process of finding a list maker that I like on the i-Phone but haven’t found the perfect one yet. Things app looks good but I need to look at it more. You can even keep the ones you check off to review if need be. It even has a project folder that looks like you can really break the project down.
I like lists too. When I make one for a trip I use it when I get ready to come home to make sure I don’t forget anything and leave something behind.
Have a great weekend and I’ll so miss not getting to be with you or having dinner like we usually do.
I love that A. A. Milne quote.
I’ve never tried to use a list to break a writer’s block, but it makes sense. Getting anything down on paper seems to work for me, even if it’s a couple of pages of rambling thoughts.