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What’s on your To Do list?

I recently shared this with my Scrivener newsletter readers, and I thought you might find it useful too…

The last couple of months I’ve been pretty stressed out and frustrated, feeling like despite all the hours I was working, I wasn’t getting enough done. And then I took a step back and realized something that has really helped: I was getting A LOT done, but I’d made it invisible.

For example, while I was running the 30-Day Scrivener Journey, I initially might’ve had an item on my to do list that looked like “Create Lesson 4.” And then I’d get to the end of the day, having worked for hours on it and still not be done, and not be able to check that off my list, and feel like a failure.

So I broke down all the discrete steps required to have a finished Lesson 4 on the class website, and there were THIRTEEN! No wonder I was overwhelmed. Once I had all the parts of the process mapped out—I guess that’s kind of my thing, lol—not only could I see just how much work I was actually accomplishing, but I could also stop in the middle without losing track of what needed to come next.

An example of my 13-step checklist
My 13-step lesson checklist

Maybe it sounds silly and obvious, but I think a lot of us fall into this trap. I’d like to gently suggest if you’re feeling stressed or overwhelmed—whether in your writing or anywhere else in your life—that you take stock of the full effort required to finish something and give yourself more credit. It’s gratifying to be able to check off each step, and I think it’s motivating.

To apply this specifically to writing, you might think in chunks. Those could be blocks of time, word counts, chapters of a research book read, etc… It all counts. I track words written each day, but my daily goal is time based because I spend a lot of necessary time doing things for the book besides typing out words. Like research, rereading, revising, and brainstorming.

All are part of my process at some point, and the book won’t happen without them. I cannot just think about the story for three months, figure the whole thing out and then have it spill from my fingertips into a typewriter like Dick Francis. (But if I could, the three months of thinking would totally count toward writing!)

Anyway, all that to say that often we think “I just need to do this one thing,” but the idea that it’s only one thing is a lie. For your well being, consider breaking it down.

And if you have any of your own ideas/thoughts to share on this topic, leave a comment. I'd love to hear from you!

Tell your friends!


  1. Reply

    I had a similar experience last year when I was trying to release my trilogy. There were so many details that I had to repeat with all three books it was hard to keep it straight. I ended up creating a detailed list of actions as well and copied it over for the next two books. It was a lifesaver.

    • Reply

      That’s a perfect use for a checklist, Sheridan. Publishing is so overwhelming and there are a ton of small details. It would be too easy to miss something without a process. Unfortunately, it feels like mine grows with every book, lol. Thanks for sharing!

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