I love writing lists. As you've probably noticed by now, most of my blog posts are comprised of, or include, one or more lists somewhere in the text. I think it's the organization I find so compelling, my brain just seems to thrive on list-making. It's also about the only way I can multi-task. Keeping lists close by can remind me where I am in my manuscript, how many times my heroine has worn a pink dress, and what kind of pictures I want to feature in my book trailer.
That said, I also have to admit "to do" lists are my least favorite. I often find myself abandoning them halfway through, that is if I even get that far. A much better system for me is to make a "have done" list, especially as a journaling theme. The other kinds of lists I enjoy making are ones I can refer to many times over and that can even be expanded. For instance:
- Repetitive word lists--things to avoid, e.g., buzz words such as "just," "only," "nice."
- Synonyms: how can I take my buzz words to a new level?
- Interesting, active verbs: same as above.
- Interesting scenes to write.
- Tips and checklists for making a scene "work."
- Character names: the more variety, the better.
- Unusual professions--go for the weird.
- Little known locations, cultures, and customs.
- Colors, e.g. rather than green, how about "spinach"?
- Future book titles. Nothing like being prepared!
- Rare phobias.
- Rare health disorders.
- Interesting hobbies.
- Unusual character goals.
- Bizarre opening lines.
- Little known facts/trivia.
- Strange items/objects.
- Ideas to write, paint, or collage.
- Lines of poetry--my own, to add to a future piece of work.
- Lines of poetry from others, to act as prompts, themes, idea starters.
- Unusual animals and their habitats. (Naked mole rats, anyone?)
- Food--past, present, and future.
- Things to learn more about.
Tip of the Day: Create some lists of your own, perhaps using some of the ideas I've suggested here. The next time you're stuck for a freewriting prompt, choose one item each from at least three lists, e.g., a character name, a strange profession, and a bizarre opening line. Put them all together, and presto--it's story time!