11/24/08

List making time...


Once upon a time I was a compulsive list maker. I made lists about the lists that I was going to make and then I would prioritize those items on the lists with another list, that ranked my "to- do's" in order of importance at which they got done. At times infuriating, like when I picked the wrong color sharpie in my color coded system that went along with the lists, it was also strangely calming. Making lists helped me keep order and focus in my self employed days that were early on in my career, a never ending day bleeding into night without a schedule, which actually makes me very anxious. And then one day I stopped. I was able to just keep lists in my brain and check things off as they got done. In fact I found not keeping a list allowed me to do more, as my lists had somehow become ways to stall and when I looked at those long columns of "things to do" on my notepad, I would become paralytic and hide them under my desk hoping that they would go away.

And now...they are back. But why are they back I began to wonder, and when did they resurface? Well, the lists came back when I moved to Los Angeles, but more significantly when I started writing on a more full time basis. When I no longer counted on auditions to mark my day by, but pages and outlines, first drafts and deadlines, and submission dates and packages to be sent...the list returned and became very important. It seems easy to spend days, weeks, months, hell even years on a writing project and not have any end goal in sight other than, please let this essay/novel/screenplay be done before it does me in!

Now I have my lists of "things to do today...and this week" and sometimes even by the end of the month, or by the end of the year. I am more flexible in my deadlines, having wisely learned that I am not a robot and that some things take more time to develop organically...like the three plus years I spent on my first novel. No longer are these little columns on varying notepads and notebooks, set as cruel reminders of all that I haven't accomplished, but all that I want to, can and eventually will accomplish.

And sometimes because it is important to step back and be grateful for the accomplishments that one has made already... I do an end of the year list, or inventory of what I have done in the last twelve months, and kindly pat myself on the back, and live in that moment for as long as I can...before I write the next list of things to accomplish in the upcoming year.

Thanks to all these beautiful notepads, list making just got a whole lot prettier.

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