Sunday, April 3, 2011

To-do Lists

Picture from this site

Some people hate them. I love them. But I generally lose them after about a day.

To-do lists are my cure for insomnia, and that really came in handy recently, after a few all-night reading binges which completely threw my circadian rhythm out of whack! Not that I'm complaining. There are few things more gratifying than reading a book straight through the night and reaching the awesome reader's catharsis right as the room lightens with sun. It's sublime.

It's also exhausting! Not to mention how irresponsible it is for me to be up all night reading when I've got a to-do list a mile long, including being there for two very cute munchkins who canNOT pour themselves cereal in the morning without making mom a cliché (crying over spilled milk).

So as I was going absolutely insane the other night (because I'd taken a late nap with the boys to keep my brain functioning at minimum capacity and now couldn't sleep a wink) I went to my desk and hand-wrote an old fashioned to-do list. It felt so good to let those spinning thoughts spill out onto the paper, to get them out of my head. And when I was done with the list (the first twelve of which had to do with reading or writing and one of which was as nebulous as 'Clean whole house thoroughly')...

I felt free. I slept soundly.

It's the same with my writing. When I've got a killer idea or a nagging dream, I can't rest until I've written out characters, city names, familial connections, and obscure paranormal abilities in some sort of chaotic list. While cleaning up my desk just now, I found nearly ten separate sheets of paper crawling with penned scribbles about my recently completed manuscript. It was almost comical to see these 'Lost Notes' (as I'm sure they'll be called when I'm famous) since almost every little idea had been changed, discarded, or implemented in a totally different way in the actual manuscript. They're helpful, though, as I'm about to begin the first round of revisions.

Those random lists of notes will remind me how I wanted to flesh out the bad guy and never got around to it on my sprint to the climax. They point out discrepancies in the secondary relationships, and minor characters who disappeared after their cameos, never to appear again.

Lists are awesome. I can't imagine my writing process without them.

How about you? Written a to-do list lately? Or maybe a list of your MC's freckles and all their names? Good, because that would be weird. It's near midnight, so I'm automatically excused for bloggish weirdness. But you! You have no excuse.

Happy Monday, everybody! Make it a good one. :)

p.s. Simon and Schuster Pulse has the first 100 pages of a new dystopian trilogy up on its site. The book is called WITHER and it's part of The Chemical Garden Trilogy. They're saying fans of Hunger Games will love it, so feel free to check out the first hundred pages with me if that sounds like your thing.


  1. Does a diet "to do" list count? Lately I've been writing down what I'm going to eat and what I actually end up eatting. My handy new i-phone has been helping me with lists. It's so much easier to have everything in my phone. I tend to lose paper and it gets crumpled up in my purse or car.

  2. I'm a list person. Don't know what I'd do without them.

  3. What a great project, Christy! Diet to-do lists are so hard for me to keep up, so kudos! I've heard from other people that their smart phones are helping them form and keep good habits, too. Hmm. *ponders upgrading to a smart phone*

    Kathi, good to know I'm in great company. (I love your blog, by the way! Your sidebar is inspiring.) :)


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