Steps In Between

Celaine Charles ~ My journey as a writer and author ~ Click STEPS IN BETWEEN above for more Blog posts

Writers–Check! (An Exercise)

stairs checkmark

Do I really need another writer’s checklist? I do. I’ve discovered it’s needed for my own growth. Only six years into writing for myself, and three years into writing more publicly, I am in great need of accountability and push-on-abilty. And, sometimes I forget the pure satisfaction in checking off an item on my list.

Maybe I should add, celebrate checking off the checklist, onto my list.

stairs wooden on a walk

I find my checklist comes in visions of stairs. Maybe that’s why I call my blog, Steps In Between…and why I need the stairs of “to-dos” to keep me on track. This visual aid keeps me climbing.

But then I think of all the lists I’ve made before. Sometimes they work, other times they don’t. As focused as I strain to be in my writing life (mixed with my nonwriting life), I find a reminder for myself to make lists valuable and necessary. It’s similar to working out a muscle. If I want a writing muscle to increase in strength, I have to pay attention to it every day.

stairs on a walk 3

There are many lists available online and in writing craft books to help develop a list that works for each writer. It’s a personal task. I believe any list found would need a few tweaks to match it to the individual writer. Or at least a mental list of priorities in mind. That’s fine too, although with the challenge work below, those mental to-dos will need to be written down.

Here’s the exercise I put myself through, and I hope it encourages my writing community out there to give it a try. Then let me know in the comments how it worked. My plan is to put myself through this exercise once a month, or at least once per change of season.

stairs rock path

First, take an inventory of the checkoff list:

I made a list of what I should be doing every day to become a stronger writer (or at least every few days). Here’s my list:

  • Sit myself down at my writing desk every day
  • Write at a little every day (though shoot for a streak of inspiration)
  • Read in the genre I’m writing in (and sometimes other genres…just read like a writer)
  • Pray over my words (other writers – interpret this however works)
  • Keep in mind: Write the book you’ve always wanted to read…that’s not out there, yet!
  • Utilize what I’ve learned (from trade books, classes, workshops, critique groups)
  • Just “do the work” (even if it feels hard, or I’m tired, or hungry)
  • Keep chocolate close by
  • Write first, edit/revise second and third and fourth…BUT finish!
  • Yes, I can always cut word count
  • Look up and enjoy life’s interruptions along the way
  • Set deadlines (write them down, divvy them up on a calendar…a suggestion from my daughter)

stairs big rock stepping stones

Next, highlight what’s actually being checked off the list each day (or most days):

Then I looked at my list again, honestly highlighting what I actually do every single day (or most days). I was shocked at the outcome.

  • Sit myself down at my writing desk every day
  • Write at a little every day (though shoot for a streak of inspiration)
  • Read in the genre I’m writing in (and sometimes other genres…just read like a writer) Every other day at least!
  • Pray over my words (other writers – interpret this however works for you)
  • Keep in mind: Write the book you’ve always wanted to read…that’s not out there, yet!
  • Utilize what I’ve learned (from trade books, classes, workshops, critique groups)
  • Just “do the work” (even if it feels hard, or I’m tired, or hungry)
  • Keep chocolate close by
  • Write first, edit/revise second and third and fourth…BUT finish!
  • Yes, I can always cut word count
  • Look up and enjoy life’s interruptions along the way
  • Set deadlines (write them down, divvy them up on a calendar…a suggestion from my daughter)

stairs on a walk 2

Last, analyze the results:

Okay! Obviously, this list I keep in my head needs to be written down on paper, along with my deadlines. I will be writing a post soon about the art of deadlines (once I master it). But I believe my point is clear…

If other writers were to ask me what I’m doing every day (or most days) to be the writer I strive to become, I would tell them this list! And that would be the truth, because it’s always in my mind and these twelve points are what I take pride in focusing on (yes, including my allergy-free chocolate).

However, what I learned in this exercise, just because it’s what I want to do, or say I do, or think I do…when I write it all down and start checking items off, I’m clearly not doing everything on my list. Now, perhaps attempting to checkoff this list of twelve items every single day is an aggressive approach. I do have a life outside my writing (and I’ve written before about the richness that outside life can add). But, I wonder if I looked at my to-do list every other day or so and did more than a mental check-off, I might grow more in my writing life.

stairs with my feet in BHam

The biggest lesson I’ve learned from this exercise; I need to have my focus in writing tangible. I need to post it on my bulletin board or place a copy next to my desk. It needs to be visible every single day…at least for me.

Hopefully with all the amazing writing resources available and writer’s to-do lists accessible, my readers have one already working for them. If not, then I encourage every writer to create one that reflects their unique attainable goals. And remember, these are just like stairs to climb one at a time, pushing our selves upward and onward. The nice part about this analogy? There’s always another set of stairs to climb. So, keep going!

Although, maybe add this one extra to-do item to the list: Celebrate checking off the checklist!

Happy Writing (because at least you’re writing),

Celaine Charles, March 29, 2020

photo cartoon pic 2

Image Credits:

All stairs photos from my iPhone (I have a thing for steps) 😊

https://www.vippng.com/preview/xRwRJ_graphic-black-and-white-download-check-mark-clip/ (check mark)

Categories: Thoughts on writing...

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7 replies

  1. Happy Writing. Happy Chocolates! Stay Safe.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I have been struggling so much with planning everything! Thank you!

    Liked by 1 person

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