Writing Assignment: Write A List Of Lists

by Randy Murray on February 15, 2013

For some people, writing a list is like writing a contract. Once something is on the list, if it is not done then the listmaker has failed.

For others, making a list is a delaying tactic. They make lists to avoid actually doing things. Making a list gives the appearance of doing things without actually doing anything.

For me the act of making a list is the art of the possible.

If I put something on a list it is not required that I do that thing, but it is now a possibility. I am not a failure if I do not check off or mark through this item. It simply remains a possibility. Yes, there are lists, like my grocery list or the things I must pack for my trip, that do get completely checked off, but even those lists are a vision of the possible.

For me list making is something like creating a quantum state. When I focus on an item, choose that path, it becomes real and fixed, and eventually, done. Or it can remain fuzzy, possible, potentially to be done and made real. I like these uncertainties. They offer freedom, not restriction. They offer me options.

For the writer lists can help to both empty one’s head to clear the way for writing and to capture ideas that might become real as the writing work is done. These lists can become a goldmine of potential, of possibilities, and of pathways.

For today’s assignment, write a list of lists that you might find useful. This past week I’ve written about several types of lists and you can include those, too. Your goal should be to create a list that includes all of the types of lists that might be helpful to you. You can create an all-encompassing list or a narrower one just for your writing.

For each list, add a brief description of what the list is for and what it might include.What is the purpose of this particular list? How “real” are the items on it to you? How wide is the range of the possibilities to you?

This meta list can help to guide you. Be bold and create lists that will challenge you. Add lists that will expand and educate you. Include lists that frighten you. And be sure and include lists that will entertain you.

This list of lists can grow to become a map for your future, filled with potential and possibilities. But remember this: just because something on a list you are not required to check it off or actually do the things you’ve written down.

Set yourself free. Stretch yourself. Look for the edges of what’s possible. Then add these things to your lists.


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