The Importance of Lists

I keep lists. Most writers do.

My lists are taped to my monitor, my desk, and in case I’ve been avoiding one, to my keyboard. I have a list of possible blog posts, a list with changes I need to insert in the story I’m working on, a list for changes for any prior story that hasn’t reached its final edit before publication (or the ideas can go in a sequel), a list of ideas for each major novel I have in idea stage, the usual list of things I have to do today, and finally, a list of writerly things I need to get done.

That’s a lot of lists. Honestly, I’d be lost without them.

A writer’s mind is different than most. I think they’re little idea magnets. We can be peacefully minding our own business, enjoying conversation at a coffee shop and suddenly a story idea zips past. The minute we acknowledge it, write it down or whatever, the floodgates tend to open. We’re lost to our inner world.

Meanwhile, the outer world keeps moving along, expecting us to keep up. Our friends make fun of us, but if they’re good friends, they make fun of us WHILE leading us by the hand through 9th street traffic even as we’re magically living a storyline in our heads.

Then, as soon as we possibly can, we write down everything we can remember about the story idea. Eventually we emerge to resume our duties as friend, parent, human, and we have no idea where we are or how we got there. Thank goodness for lists that show us what we’re supposed to be doing. Of course, the story ideas continue to drift in, but now they have their own list.

And of course, thank goodness for our friends who have taken a class “How to live with a writer.”

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