Tuesday, August 25, 2009

What Are We Doing?

Late last week, Lisa Romeo posted a fantastic post that began with these lines: "When it seems as if I'm busy, busy but getting nowhere, I write a DOING List. Not a TO DO list, but a look-what-I'm-doing/accomplishing/what-I-have-in-the-works list. Sort of like a motivation-approbation-affirmation rolled into one."

Lisa then shared her latest "doing list," and it was (not surprisingly, if you follow Lisa and her work) quite impressive. I loved the thinking that inspired it, so over the weekend, I decided to try drawing up a doing list of my own. Here goes:

...finishing a book review for a favorite site...submitting an essay to another couple of journals (and thinking of more possibilities to try once the September submissions floodgates open)...preparing the September issue of The Practicing Writer, which will include an interview with author John Griswold...preparing another author interview for the Practicing Writing blog...reading a review copy that arrived last week...preparing more items for both my blogs...reminding myself of the September 15 deadline to submit a poem for a themed journal issue and challenging myself to just write the thing already...

My list actually doesn't make me feel as much approbation or affirmation as I think the project is intended to. Instead, it points out to me the paucity of "creative" work I am doing. At the same time, I have to remind myself that I do hold a full-time, 9-5 job. (If I had another 40 hours each week to focus on writing, I do believe that I'd get a lot more writing done!) And while the writing-related work that I am doing at the moment may not necessarily be advancing my own "corpus" all that much, I do take a great deal of satisfaction in advancing the work of others and engaging with the literary community through my newsletter and blogs.

The list does, however, motivate me: to do more. Right after I finished it, I stopped reminding myself of that September 15 deadline and just sat down to continue writing the damned thing. However the piece eventually turns out, I am just glad to be engaged in it.

What about you? What does your own "doing" list reveal? What's on it, and what does the act of writing it out tell you?


Lisa Romeo said...

Erika, thanks for the kind words.

I try not to let a list - To Do or Doing lists or even that mental one, Should Have Done -- get me too depressed about all I am NOT doing....but sometimes it does, of course.

You make a really good point about what we can learn from the act of making, and reading, one's own lists. Sometimes it makes me realize I should be doing a little less of this and more of that; I see the holes in my activity, where I'm being lazy, maybe where I'm over-reaching, etc.

Jessie Carty said...

i love making lists but i never thought of a DOING list so hmmm

poetry manuscript under consideration by an editor . . . two chapbooks circulating for consideration . . . one chapbook published that i should market more . . . several poems on my "upcoming publications" list should be on the "recent publications" list come september . . . and feeling pretty happy :)

Chloe' said...

This is a great idea! My to do list usually includes the mundane (laundry) to the enormous (have book published.)

deonne kahler said...

Erika, sitting down and writing the damn thing (paraphrase) is the best advice ever! That should go on top of any writer's list (ha).

Erika D. said...

Glad that this one seemed to resonate. Thanks again to Lisa for the inspiration!