For the love of a good list

Plans to get on top of things were scuppered this week by a brain-numbing headache. Being more of an it'll be fine than a plan b sort of person, my worry cloud grew. However on Saturday during pain free moments amazingly induced by chocolate, I made a list. It runs to three pages but in spite of its length, it makes me feel better. Don't know why didn't I do it sooner.

Anyway this has put me in mind of lists and what wonderfully focusfull things they are.  How they blitz the cloud and help a person feel so much more in control.

Lists, chocolate,  and pens,
all have very beneficial effects.
There's a list app called Clear that I used for while, it helps you prioritise. You slide items up and down according to their urgency with quite satisfying sound effects.

But when I'm under pressure, nothing beats a sheet of A4 and being able to scribble things out with gusto as soon as they're done. And I know I'm not alone in writing down stuff that I've already done then crossing it off straightaway, just to make me feel better.

I'm grateful to Nicky Schmidt who posted a link to this listworthy article from the man himself which has many a fine point on which to focus. So while I should have been assaulting my own list, I ferreted around brainpickings,  picked my favourite fine points, and made a nice short one here:

  1. You have to finish things — that’s what you learn from, you learn by finishing things. Neil Gaiman
  2. Avoid haphazard writing materials. A pedantic adherence to certain papers, pens, inks is beneficial. No luxury, but an abundance of these utensils is indispensable. H.P.Lovecraft
  3. BUT
  4. Take a pencil to write with on aeroplanes. Pens leak. But if the pencil breaks, you can’t sharpen it on the plane, because you can’t take knives with you. Therefore: take two pencils. Margaret Atwood
What sensible maxims to live and work by! Do hope illustrators as well as writers can extract some wisdom from these too.

could probably do with a few more pens, though... 

(P.S. I would also like to include every single point on Elmore Leonard's list with his 'short disclaimer of sorts' about being invisible, but that would make this editorial far too long.)

Now, the last two lists for you, and this time with titles:

Last week's highlights:

W&P Treats to come:

  • Agents' Party Tips and Nicola Morgan!
  • Wonderful interview with one of our older members, octogenarian, Jose Paterson
  • An illuminating illustration feature

Hope your week's fully under control,

Jan Carr

Jan Carr is the editor of Words & Pictures. Her fiction is older middle grade, she blogs occasionally and loves to write in magenta. You can contact her at


  1. Thank you for the brilliant links. Neil Gaiman's quote has to be my fave ... hope your headache is totally gone now. Have more chocolate!

  2. I've got a list somewhere. I made it at the beginning of the summer, only I haven't done half the things on it and now have loads more to do. Maybe I'll make another one and ignore that too. Do you fancy a job as my PA, Jan?

    1. Lists deteriorate into guilt very quickly so my advice is yes definitely ignore it, ideally burn it.
      re PA job - I'm very cheap.

  3. I live my life by lists. So satisfying to cross things off!

    1. Lorraine, you strike me as a superbly organised creative!


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