I love lists. I could make a list about making lists! They are not just “Honey Do” lists around the house, or remembering to buy milk and eggs at the grocery store. A list is a valuable tool and asset in your writing. Lists help us organize our thoughts and add structure to a free form activity. Lists keep us grounded, without inhibiting the creative process. However, I need to use caution and I advise you to do the same. Writing about everything I think I need to do and trying to cram it all into my schedule, can lead to overwhelm and ultimately a full out shutdown. Nevertheless, list making is a way for me to combine left-brain and right-brain activities. My analytical left-brain enjoys exploring new concepts and figuring things out. My creative right-brain is delighted to have new ideas to digest and incorporate. I have less stress and am more productive when I work from a list.
Make a list the next time you are stuck on a writing project. List the bullet points of the argument you want to make. List your chapter headings. List your key words/phrases which convey your core message. Do a free write about your subject and number every new thought. Free associate key words in word clouds. Some writers create a collage of their core message and arguments, illustrating stories and personal antidotes on different colored sticky notes. They arrange the colored paper on a board, floor, or desktop until they are happy with the flow of the presentation. During editing, I’ve been known to make a print out and then cut up my work so that I could rearrange the whole piece. Experiment and see what feels right for you. Perhaps it is one method over the others, or a combination of them.
Sometimes, after you’ve made your list, your writing project is still not coming into focus. It can be frustrating when you don’t know what to do next. Your Writing Mentor would be happy to discuss your writing challenge. Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org to schedule a free 20-minute consultation to discuss your web site copy, blog posts, or newsletter articles.
Mary E. Knippel, Your Writing Mentor, is a creative professional with 25 years of extensive writing experience. Using her skills as a free-lance writer, editor, speaker and workshop facilitator, Mary encourages reluctant writers to embrace their writing potential and address their writing challenges with fun and flair. For the past three years, she has been the Independent Editor Coordinator (aka Book Doctors) for the San Francisco Writers Conference, where professional editors advise fledgling writers. Recently, she participated as a panelist for the Northern California Storybook Festival and the Bay Area Film Festival. She is an active member of many professional writing organizations and past board member of such non-profits as the Women’s National Book Assn-San Francisco and the California Writers Club-Peninsula Branch.