Make a list. Lists help, not only in your writing, but also in life.
No matter how boring or disastrous your life may appear at any give moment, you can fix it, when you make a list.
Here’s what lists can do for you.
- Surprise you. You’ll discover options or solutions you haven’t considered;
- Trigger memories. Suddenly, you have a topic for what you’re writing, or a “maybe” solution for a business problem. In short, lists mine your creativity;
- Relieve stress. Any kind of stress. For writers, it’s usually a stress related to writing. Lists will help you to come up with useful ideas for both fiction and nonfiction.
I love lists, because when I’m stressed, I’m prone to procrastination. Lists prevent procrastination. And no, I’m not talking about task lists. (Useful as they may be.) Task lists are a minor form of listing.
You can use lists for everything.
Make a list: use lists for everything
You can use lists for everything. They’re especially useful for making good decisions. Just make a list of pros and cons for a decision you need to make. Still can’t make a decision? There you go: that’s your decision. You’ve decided that you’re not ready to decide.
If you want to avoid procrastination in writing, make a list:
- Writing a white paper or business plan? Make a list of everything you need to mention. Then make a list of what you should NOT mention.
- Need to write an email message, and you’re procrastinating? Make a list of everything you want to say. Your list may be just three items long, but you’ve made a start on the message. You’ll be shocked at how quickly (and effectively) you write the message.
Lists make your writing pressure-free, because there’s nothing difficult about making a list.
A big tip: keep your lists. For many years, I tossed out my lists. This was a mistake. Once I kept my lists, I found ideas for new projects buried in the lists.
BTW—are you a stationery nut? Me too. Use one of your blank notebooks for your lists.
I use lists for both fiction and nonfiction; they’re invaluable for fiction.
Make a list: use lists for your fiction
Use lists for everything fiction-related, whether you’re looking for ideas or developing characters.
Lists are especially useful when you’re writing scenes. With every scene, you need to show time and place, as well as who’s in the scene, and why they’re in it: you need to establish the characters in the scene.
Make a list. Start with a “setting” list: use sensory details. What’s your point of view character seeing, hearing, etc. What’s he thinking? You can make a list in just a minute or two, and you’ll be shocked at how it frees your creativity.
You know I’m all about the suspense. Make a list of ways you could surprise readers in the scene.
When you make a list, you’ll surprise yourself too. You always have options, and you can always come up with ideas when you list. Have fun. 🙂
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Copywriter and marketing pro Angela Booth maintains a busy copywriting and ghostwriting practice. Fascinated by online marketing, she wrote one of the first business books for internet marketing, published by Allen & Unwin. She’s been an enthusiastic blogger since the late 1990s.