Thea Devine here, back from my refreshing electronics-free week
(my husband’s challenge) in Maine where we wandered into a local gift shop and in the course of my browsing I found a pad on which to keep a To-Don’t List.
Now you may think that after more than 25 years, I’ve got my writing act pretty much together, and I’m chugging along daily full steam ahead, productive, goal-oriented, and everything running smoothly under my strict managerial thumb..
You would be wrong. I am a world-class procrastinator. I am scattered, easily distracted by bright shiny things, always behind and ever scrambling. Which is why, when I discovered the To- Don’t List pad, I immediately thought it could solve all my problems.
Don’t get me wrong. I do try to list things and get them done. Especially in my writing life, and you know how hard that can be.
I even know people, who when they get things done that they haven’t put on their list, write them down just for the satisfaction of crossing them off. But me, I’ll make my list, and maybe accomplish the tasks three days later. If I remember. If I look at the list. If I feel like it. Or maybe not.
But the To-Don’t List, which is divided into four categories of Don’t-ness (avoid, delay, pawn off and sabotage) frees me from all that:
Write 20 pages Check (avoided) (wrote 5pp)
Work on other mss Check (delayed) (no due date, no rush)
That heroine’s name?? Check (delayed) (research needed)
Prep for upcoming workshop Check (delayed) (still time to do that)
Rethink goals Check (sabotage) (what goals?)
It’s amazing what I didn’t accomplish today. How much I managed to delay and avoid. (I’m also good at sabotaging.) I didn’t have to remember or give up anything or make a decision. And I don’t feel guilty,
Hey, I made a list, people. And everything I meant to do is crossed off. I feel good. It’s been a really successful day.
(Um — you do know this is tongue-in-cheek, right?)
(Or is it …?)
Writing Secret: forget lists; keep writing, writing, writing.
Do you procrastinate? Do you make lists? For writing chores: plot lists? Timelines? Story arcs? Character traits? Do they work?
Thea Devine is working on Beyond the Night, the sequel to The Darkest Heart, which will be an April 2013 release from Pocket Star. And look for the reissue of His Little Black Book from Pocket/Gallery in September.