Tackling the Writing “To-Do” List

Lately I’ve been feeling like there are so many things I want to write and read!  The creative drought I was experiencing at the beginning of quarantine (and, similarly, the beginning of this year) is now officially over.  While it can be sad and depressing to have no inspiration or motivation to write, it can also be overwhelming when the floodgates open and writing ideas are pouring in nonstop!

Because I’ve gone from one extreme to the other lately, I thought I would share some of the tips and techniques I have been using to make sure I am getting writing in but not feeling like I’m drowning in ideas with no good place to start.

Make a list of all the things you want to work on.

In addition to some poems, blog posts for borrowed solace, and a book idea I have been working on, I also recently started writing on Medium.  We are also in the process of finalizing the content for the virtual workshop we are having tomorrow (Seeing What is Invisible: A Mystical Writing Workshop at 7 pm MST in case you haven’t heard!) which involves some planning, reading, and writing.  It’s a lot!  So for now I am settling for making a list of things I want to write about.  Maybe it’s a phrase that comes to me that would be an amazing opening line of a poem, or an article I want to publish on Medium about close reading (English nerd alert) but either way, I currently have them in a running list of topics/writing starters stored in a chaotic Google Doc I created.  It’s not neat or organized by any means, but it’s better than nothing.

Pick one thing off of said list to work on at a time.

It’s definitely been helpful for me to work on one thing at a time and try my best to finish one thing before moving on to another.  Granted, that’s not really how writing a book works, so there are exceptions, but if I am going to start a new article or a blog post, my goal is to finish it entirely before moving on to another thing.  Same thing goes for poems.  There will always be edits and revisions to be done after I deem something “complete” (nothing is every truly complete for us writers, after all) but getting that first draft to a point where it is at least coherent and has a clear beginning, middle, and end helps me keep my sanity.

Read or write every day.  You don’t have to do both (unless you want to!)

Something that has bugged me a little bit about everyone being in quarantine is the idea that we all have so much more free time than normal.  Sure, I am at home, but I am still working full time (my workdays are sometimes more hectic and stressful than they were pre-quarantine) and juggling my normal chores and obligations.  Small group may be virtual and hangouts with friends may be over a Facebook video call, but they didn’t just up and disappear!  Because of this, I often find myself getting to somewhere around eight o’clock at night not having focused on my writing or reading tasks for the day.  I could spend half an hour on two things (I am a grandma and go to bed at nine o’clock most nights) or I could spend a really great hour devoted to just one thing.  My choice is to spend time on one thing!  That might be reading instead of writing one day, which is fine!  I am currently reading a book (and keep getting more in the mail to add to my reading list—they just show up.  I wonder who is ordering them and then forgetting about them… *It’s me*) and I am also reading and giving feedback on a draft of a story from Nicole.  Both of those things take time, so choosing to just read one day is A-Okay with me!

Take Breaks.

Most importantly, if you are jugging too many writing to-do’s, take breaks!  You don’t want to get burnout.  It is very real and it is very un-fun.  So take a day where all you do is binge watch the new season of Dead to Me (anyone else?  That show is absolutely bonkers and absolutely incredible all at once) and get back on the writing train later in the week.  It’s okay for your writing life and it’s definitely okay for your sanity.  You deserve it.

I hope these tips are helpful for you if there’s a lot of writing in your future!  And, just to shamelessly plug the workshop yet again, don’t forget to sign up for Seeing What is Invisible: A Mystical Writing Workshop happening TOMORROW, May 16th, at 7 pm MST.  Click here to sign up—hope to see you there!