Wordplay Wednesday:   List-Making

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I am a great list-maker. I create detailed grocery lists only to leave them in the car or even at home when it is time to go to the store. I make lists of things to do, books to read, projects to attempt, stories to write, menus for dinner, errands to accomplish and so on. The lists mostly end up like the one for my groceries—not available when actually needed. 

One could be tempted to assert that for me creating a list is a waste of time, however I disagree. I think that in my case the physical act of creating the list is the salient  part of the exercise. By writing it down, I actually engage my brain and the list is then internalized and remembered. Not perfectly, mind you, but accurate enough.  I tend to get 95% or more of the things on my grocery list even when it is left behind at home.

When I was teaching, I would make my lessons plans for the week and rarely look at them again after entering them in the plan book. The act of thinking through my plans and writing them down was the important part, not looking back over them. There was rarely a need to do so. Plus, I often found that if I did vary from the plans, my “seat-of-the pants” thinking and resulted in serendipitous moments that were actually better than the original. Because I had taken the time to plan, my mind was able to make subconscious connections that seemed random, but really were not.

So, this week I am advocating that try making lists and discover what comes to mind. You will find that as you write ideas or down, other things will pop into your head that may not seem relevant. Write them down anyway. Often the things that come unbidden from the recesses of our minds carry a lot of power. I find that sometimes those ideas have just been waiting for a chance to emerge and get some attention.


So what kind of list should you make? There are many options. I am going to offer several, but you may come up with others.  For this activity you can either set a timer or determine a certain number of items to list. Having either the time or the number parameter gives the exercise a bit of structure which helps with the thinking process.

Make a list and then choose an item off your list that has some power. Make a story, poem, essay, memoir, collage or art piece. Keep your lists in your writing. notebook and return to them often.

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Things I love              


Things I fear              


Favorite places


People I admire



Make a list and see where it takes you. Happy Writing!