I’ve been making lots of “To Do” lists lately. Some of my lists actually have items that say, “Make To Do list for xxxx.” So my lists have lists. I have been known to write down tasks that I have already accomplished, just for the pleasure of scratching it off.
With lists I’ve discovered I approach them in four different ways depending on what the topics are and where physically I am.
First, if I’m thinking through the normal activities of my house I use my own shorthand. I know what I mean when I mark down something like dgs/fd that I have to order more dog food from the supplier I use. Scrts- that’s to pick up the prescriptions at the pharmacy. My husband picks up my notes and shakes his head, incomprehensible.
Then there are the lists that have to do with phone calls, repairs to the house, follow-up conversations for whatever. Those lists are a little more detailed so I can remember what it was that I needed fixed and why. So it might have the phone number of my repair man along with a note that says, “dryer has odd thumping sound from right side in the back after running for 20 minutes.”
The third kind of list happens when I travel. I have diligently created a spreadsheet on my computer of all the things I must take with me on a journey. Do I use it? Of course not. I write it out each time. Why, I have no idea—I just do it. Always included are things like: computer, charging cord for computer, cell phone, charging cord for the cell phone, passport, leave money for the housekeeper, set the alarm. You’d think I’d have this down by now, but I still make the list.
The last kind of list I make is when I’m in unknown territory and need to not miss important points or issues. I’ve just returned from Iowa (hence the late posting today) and realized I needed yet another pad of paper in my bag to record all I had to remember. This time it was about putting care together for my mother-in-law. So the list was more like: Meet doctor at 5:30 am outside the hospital room, park in North garage for other doors are locked, call the social worker to coordinate transfer, obtain the paperwork for release of information. I promise you that list was longer than any of the others.
I go on about this not because you might be interested in how I organize my time. But rather, as I sat on the plane coming home and sorted through the pages of notes I had gathered, I realized I do the same process with my writing. I list my characters’ attributes, needs, challenges. I think through my setting’s contributions. I worry about my plot points.
I might sound a tad compulsive here. I’m not. I just move forward with more assurance when I have my lists.