Dawn Colclasure's Blog

Author and poet Dawn Colclasure

Friday, June 29, 2007

The "to-do" list is not set in stone

I've gotten into the habit of putting together a "to do" list every week, for my writing. This came about because I have SO MUCH going on with my writing and having a weekly list of tasks to perform helps me to prioritize my week, in a way, to make sure EVERYTHING gets done and nothing important gets overlooked.

At first, my "to do" lists were pretty long...so long, it scared me. LOL I was going at doing 3 tasks a day, for 7 days! Eek! Then it got to where my workload tapered down. To where I only had one thing to do each day. At first, following THAT kind of list was strange. (I'm a BIG multitasker at heart. LOL) But as I went through my week, I saw the benefits of only doing ONE THING a day for the week.

For example, some of my tasks involved writing an article. I'd write it in the morning then go about my day, taking care of everything else. Still, what I'd written earlier lingered with me. I kept thinking it over. Thinking about things I should add, things I should take out, things that needed revising or restructuring. Then, later, when I had the chance, I'd go back and make the necessary changes. Then, still later, I'd give it a fresh read. Then I'd let it sit overnight and, if I was STILL okay with it tomorrow, I'd find something to do with it. Find a market for it, or something. So, just having one task a day was ideal. Especially since SOME of those tasks took HOURS or days to complete! (Ugh!)

After a while of this, though, something else came up. Sometimes I wasn't able to do a day's allotted task, BUT I could do a different task I had planned later in the week. So, I would switch them. I felt strange switching around the tasks, worrying that the day's task might end up being put off or forgotten, but it worked out pretty well. Everything still got done.

That is, until THIS week came about. This week, I had the task of putting together a chapter I've been doing reesearch on for a looong time. I felt that, finally, at long last, I could write this chapter and move on. I had enough information. I'd interviewed enough people. I checked out enough sites -- or so I THOUGHT!

On the day I was supposed to write this chapter, I did some last-minute research. I read a couple of newspaper articles online about my chapter's subject -- and felt my heart sink. These articles were pretty much a summary of my chapter's topic. My chapter is more exhaustive on this subject, going into detail. That last part is the reason WHY I was disheartened after I read these articles. They covered an aspect of my topic I failed to do ANY research on or gather data for! DARN!

It's not just disappointment which struck me, but panic, as well. I started to worry. I started to freak. I started asking myself, "WHAT ELSE is there that I have overlooked or forgotten??"

To say the least, I knew I couldn't write this chapter yet. But, still! I couldn't calm myself with the burning questions over whether there's other stuff I have neglected to cover with this topic. When I say the chapter is an "exhaustive" one, I am not kidding. It's supposed to be a "101" type of chapter on EVERYTHING about this topic. An "everything you ever wanted to know about it" type of chapter. And, obviously, I didn't have enough information to write it yet! ACK!

I later talked to someone about it. His suggestion: "Stop freaking out and do more research." So, that's what I'm going to do. I'm going to keep digging and keep digging, until I've literally read EVERYTHING in print on this subject! And there IS a book about this topic, too (the ONLY ONE, in fact!) so I'll read that book and maybe it will give me ideas on any other things my chapter should cover.

Still, work on that book was not completely put off. I STILL have an unfinished chapter I need to work on, so that's the chapter that's getting focused on this week, and the other one will be for another week.

I hope.

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