Monday, April 28, 2008

Are You An A-List Writer?

At the writer's circle I go to, whenever we have someone new turn up who wants to join us, we go through what we call 'creeping death'. This is where we go around the room, telling the new faces what our names are, and what sort of writing we enjoy tackling. One of my friends always says:

"I enjoy writing short stories, novels and shopping lists."

And that's what I want to ask you today. Are you a 'list' writer? Do you write lists of writing things to do? It may be boring, it may come across as nerdy, but writers who produce lists, usually get things done.

There are two particular aspects of list writing that are important to writers. Firstly, creating a 'To Do' list sets clear boundaries for the day. What do I have to achieve today? My list will tell me.

This is particularly important for those of you who have limited writing time. If all you can snatch is 30 minutes here, or an hour there, every day, you have to make that time work as efficiently as you can. If you write a list of all the writing things you need to get done during your next writing 'moment' when you sit down at your desk, your list will help you slip into the right frame of mind straight away. You'll spend less time procrastinating and sorting paperclips into colour combinations and height order, and more time tackling the things on your list.

For me, as a freelance writer, I write a list at the end of every day. What do I need to do tomorrow? That way, when I sit at my desk the following morning, my list is there, and I know what I need to do. For those who claim to suffer from Writer's Block, having a list of things to write about can help to kick start you in the morning.

Secondly, if you have a list of things to do, eveytime you complete one, you can tick it off your list. Psychologically, that gives us a huge boost through the day, as more and more things get ticked off. A tick means that we are achieving something with our time. At the end of your writing time, all you need to do is have a look at what's been crossed off since you started. Try it. It works. You'll feel better.

And anything that you don't finish today, just put it to the top of your list for tomorrow. And keep adding to your writing to-do list. That way, you'll always know what needs to be done the next time you sit down to do some writing.

That's it for now, so I'll sign off here. I really would encourage you to become an 'A-list' Writer. And guess what? Now I've done this, I've got something else to tick off my 'to-do' list for today!

Good luck.