Friday, April 13, 2012

L is for LISTS

     I come from a long line of list-makers. My mother keeps lists of her lists - 'cleaning', 'shopping', and 'work', for example. For every item I take off a list, I add two more. It's a genetic flaw, a disease, but it motivates my lazy self to stay the course. Lists are also handy tools for writing.
     Lists can be helpful for taking inventory of things you know but have forgotten. They can also generate ideas if your well seems to be drying out. As an exercise in brainstorming, take a topic, any topic. Mine will be Dogs for this example. Here are a few ideas I'm thinking about off the top of my head which could turn into articles, essays or stories:
  1. Therapy Dogs. Article on therapy dogs in the classroom. There is a lady in town who regularly brings her dog to our elementary school to sit with the kids while they read. 
  2. Maybe a first-person essay from a dog's POV on what it's like to live at a sanctuary, waiting to be adopted. 
  3. An article on the Bassett Waddle, a yearly parade in Dwight, IL where hundreds of Bassett hounds and their owners take to Main Street to celebrate Dwight's Harvest Days and promote Guardian Angel Bassett Rescue.
    By listing those three ideas, I've remembered a few related things which could also turn into separate projects: an article on dogs trained in disaster recovery I saved months ago (stashed in my idea file); the  woman who has hand-painted thousands of memorial markers for the graves at an animal cemetery; and a charity horse auction to benefit a home for troubled youth.
    Those six ideas could go in any direction. I could use the same idea for an essay, newspaper article, short story for a children's publication, a poem (if I had that talent), a picture book, even a novel if I really wanted to expand the idea. 
    Next time you find yourself thinking about future projects, write down a word you'd like to explore. You might be surprised with the ideas that list-making reveals. 

23 comments:

  1. I'm a list-maker, too. Although, lately I have to say I make fewer lists than I once did. To the extent they make me feel like I have "a bunch of things to do besides writing and reading," I've quit making them.

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    1. Good point, Marcia! Now I'll have to always make sure my writing to-do list is twice as long as my everything else list!

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  2. I always have notebooks for every project I work on. While drafting a story, I make lists for loads of things like details about my characters, potential plot twists, trivial back story, dialogue that comes into my head, threads that appear to be unraveling, etc. All of these things will fall into the category of things I might add or fix later. All of this helps when I go back to revise. Some of it becomes irrelevant, but some of it really helps. ^_^

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    1. Yeah, my notebooks run about 30 % drivel to 70% usable content. Sounds like we have similar writing styles.

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  3. we live by the list at our house...it's also a great tool for folks who suffer with ADD/ADHD.

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    1. I imagine it would be very helpful for that. Thanks for stopping by, Jaimee!

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    1. Hi there! Glad you're here - thanks so much for the follow!

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  5. Nice to cyber-meet you, Dawn! Your blog name almost gets me singing the Brady Bunch theme song. Almost. ;)

    I never thought of using lists that way--as a brainstorming device. It does feel mighty good to cross things off my to-do lists, that's for sure. Are you on Pinterest? I think of that as a big visual list.

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    1. Hi Jennifer! I know, the blog name's connection to the Brady Bunch didn't hit me until I'd already started posting, and then I thought, 'Darn'! I really do not like that theme song!
      I am on Pinterest, but it's lost its appeal for me a bit. Not sure what to do with the pins once I have them on my boards.
      Thanks for stopping by!

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  6. I keep lists, but only in my head. I don't even go food shopping with a list. My husband is completely the opposite. If his mind is anything like his desk, I understand why he finds it necessary to keep lists.
    I do like your advice about listing ideas. I can absolutely see the advantage of doing that.

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    1. It sounds like my desk is similar to your husband's, hence my need for lists! I admire your organized mind; wish that worked for me! At the very least, it would save a lot of paper!

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  7. I use lists as writing prompts, and sometimes get good short stories :)
    Look forward to the rest of your challenge run…can’t believe we’ve had 14 days already!
    --Damyanti, Co-host A to Z Challenge April 2012

    Twitter: @AprilA2Z
    #atozchallenge

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    1. It's going by quickly, isn't it!
      Thanks for stopping by!

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  8. My granddaughters are intrigued with making lists. They are only 6 and 7 1/2, but they make long lists about things they want to do when I visit which is very often. It is fortunate that I am a young-ish grandma. Love the List!

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    1. That's so sweet! My daughter used to do the same thing for her visits with Grandma. Daughter is 19 now and still loves to spend time with her.

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  9. Sounds like a good plan. So many of us are always busy; therefore, we don't take the time to write down things we should. Thanks for stopping by.

    Catch My Words
    http://joycelansky.blogspot.com

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    1. Nice to see you here, too! Looking forward to more of your posts!

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  10. Sometimes I use lists to order thoughts. If I can't remember something, then I use lists to write things down. This is a great post.

    www.modernworld4.blogspot.com

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  11. Thanks, Gina! Glad you stopped by, and good luck with the rest of the Challenge!

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  12. I love lists. There is a certain sense of satisfaction of checking an item off your list.

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  13. List are great for brainstorming. I use them instead of outlines in scenes anymore. Then again, when finished, to bring everything together.

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  14. I make more lists than anyone I know. I even make lists of lists I need to make!

    Ellie, who has 3 blogs in the challenge
    Ellie's Blank Book
    Ellie's Couch
    Help Michigan Pets

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