Not too long ago I wrote Why I Fear List Posts, and now I’m going to guitar strum a different tune, just for the sake of being difficult. Nah, actually, I’m starting a great jam session, thanks to Sandra, and Rhyan Scorpio-Rhys for his link to An Evening with Ray Bradbury.
In last week’s writing workshop, Sandra introduced writing “Random Things About Me” via Tim Thomlinson via Matias Viegener. (Everybody gets credit, okay?) After reading some examples from Viegener, we women quickly scribbled. I was a little concerned about what to write as my About pages are numbered lists. But here’s what came out that day:
1. I record my dreams, but of course, I forget them too.
2. I have been given many nicknames, such as Lanilicious.
3. One of my favorite things to do, a mark of happiness, is when I dance to music alone in my apartment.
4. I like making people comfortable – and uncomfortable.
5. Being helpful is a nice feeling too.
6. I can eat a lot.
7. I cry easily and far too often.
8. I loathe clocks. I challenge you to find the time in my house.
9. When I was a child I took fire safety very seriously.
10. Although I almost burned the house down cooking pizza.
Then I started thinking about how lists can be a valuable writing tool. Now I know this is not an original idea, but I just never saw lists this way – at least, consciously. Lists are probably something I did intuitively or for exercises in wistful dreaming.
So, what kinds of lists do people write lists for?
- To Do
- Movies to Watch
- Books to Read
But what if we went beyond this and started to write lists for:
- Character development (fiction or non)
- Stories you want to write (theme development)
- Nice things to remember about you (or for someone else!)
- New words you like/learned/want to use
- The way something makes/made you feel
- What you remember about _____
- Rants/Advice = most lists posts
- Things you’d like to tell your boss, ex, mother, etc.
- Childhood memories
- (or any memory)
- Shifts/Coming of age moments
Bradbury recommends writing down 10 things you love and 10 things you hate. I think even if you suffer from writers blockhead you can at least write a lists of loves and hates.
I suppose if you wanted to have more structure, you could write 10 line stories or poems and see what you come up with.
Recently, I’ve been arm wrestling with the stupid query letter, not my first carnival ride around. I decided to scrap what I wrote when I realized the letter didn’t sound like me, it sounded like what I thought it should be. So I wrote in third person (even though I never do, and was told it wasn’t my strong point) and then started to write a list of the points I wanted to get across.
I feel this letter is truer to me, my writing and the list forced me to think about what I wanted to say. I also think there is something informal about the format of lists that perhaps tricks your monkey mind into thinking, “I’m not really writing. I’m just jotting down notes.”
Anyway, there is still so much I want to do with this. One of which is to share this with my ESL students in the hopes they will be better writers. Or at the very least, better list writers 😛