The Perfect Life List

I sat down this morning to write a list of ideas for my upcoming blog and was a few lines in when inspiration struck – I didn’t NEED this list, because I could write a blog ABOUT lists and how fabulous and essential they are. Brilliant! And I can even relate it to writing because so many of my lists are about writing!

I LOVE lists. I do, I really do. I always start the day with at least one list, and nothing beats the satisfaction of ticking things off that list. I don’t wait until New Year to write lists of resolutions – I tend to do this on a monthly basis, a never-ending list of things I’m convinced will result in a perfect life if only I could put a tick next to them all…

I don’t think it’s just me – everyone loves a good list, don’t they? A love ingrained from a very early age, I realized, as my five year old made me sit down with her the other day to help with the spelling on her Christmas list – she’d seen something on an advert on TV and just had to write it down immediately (it was a Barbie Puppy Play Park in case Santa is reading this, and she’s been a very good girl this year so definitely must be on the good list).

This week, and it’s only Wednesday as I write this, I have written the following lists:(apologies in advance for the mention of the C word. I can’t help myself – ONLY 15 WEEKS TO GO!)

List of short story competitions

List of short story ideas

List of chapter ideas for new book

Daily lists of scenes I want to write

List of potential titles for new book

List of blog ideas

Daily work lists for the day-job

Weekly task list for the day-job

List of things to buy in lunch-hour at day-job

Food shopping lists

Menu plan for the week

List of children’s school activities I need to pay for/complete forms for

Christmas present lists (sorry)

Everything I want to buy for Autumn/Winter lists

List of new books I want to buy

List of ingredients for recipes

List of chores to be done in house (long)

List of chores to be done in garden (longer)

List of exercise I WILL do this week (short)

Lists of very expensive things I would buy if rich

List of very expensive places I would go if rich

I think maybe I have a problem. But I definitely work better if I have lists. Take food shopping for example – send me shopping without a list, I’ll spend twice as much money and come back with nothing edible. It’s the same for writing. I’m not a huge planner – I don’t know exactly what’s going to happen in a book when I start writing. I know my characters, how the book starts and how it ends. In between I write a lot of lists, lists that change regularly as I go along. Some are abandoned, some are expanded, some are ruthlessly cut. I start with a vague, unnumbered list of what might happen, then a less vague list of chapter numbers and what might happen. The first lists might only have a dozen chapter ideas – the rest of it tends to spring from the characters’ actions. But I always go back and update my lists because if I didn’t, my poor characters would just wander around, getting lost and being generally useless.

Do you know, reading this back through, I sound like I should be quite organised, don’t I? Almost… efficient. Hmmm… not sure where the lists are going wrong for me. Maybe it’s the lack of things actually ticked off those lists that’s the problem?

Still, never mind – can’t stop. Lists to write, stories to finish.

Vanessa x

43 thoughts on “The Perfect Life List

  1. I love this! I can identify whole-heartedly! I write lists for *everything* – This week’s To Do Lists, Writing To Do List, Shopping List, it goes on and on. It helps to clear my head & then I can tackle one job at a time – putting my all into each task without having a washing machine head. Great post Vanessa! x

    • Thanks, Rose – I’m not sure I could make it through the day without at least one list!
      Vanessa x

  2. I LOVE your lists! 🙂

    I have lists for everything too lol

    I read a psychological study recently where a professor was saying that the average person will only achieve 7 things from a to do list per day, no matter how many things are on that list. I wonder what he’d make of your 21 lists! 😉


  3. I thought I had a thing for lists, but it seems to be nothing compared to the amount here! I have found a great app for my iPhone. It’s called Buy Me A Pie and you can add lists onto there. The best part about it is you can synch it to another phone (my OH’s) and it informs him when the list has been updated. It’s like nagging without the actual ‘Have you done that yet?’ part of getting the lists done! Must get on with my list for the day. I never added this onto it 😉

    Catherine x

    • What’s this? An app for lists?? I feel quite faint… Will definitely add that to my list of things to buy this week!
      Vanessa x

  4. I have list mania, too. Right now, from where I’m sitting, I see my six-monthly To Do, monthly To Do, Weekly To Do and Daily To Do (yes, I am that anal). I have a monthly menu plan, a shopping list, a kids’ homework list, an editing check list, a blog list, a music monday song list, a holiday packing list (winter/summer)… I could go on. LOL. Loved the post, will add it to my list of greatest blog posts i’ve read, ever. XXX

  5. Nicky, that is a very fine list of lists! I am quite envious and now see that my own list of lists is definitely lacking… must go off and remedy that immediately 🙂
    Vanessa x

  6. Oh, I can so relate to this post, Vanessa. Mr B laughs at me with my lists for this & my lists for that… I even have sub-lists – Ha! What would we do without them, eh?! I’ve written lists for as long as I can remember and I don’t intend to stop now. So good to know I am among so many list-lovers 🙂 Fab post! x

  7. I now feel wholly inadequate in the list stakes … I have been totally out-listed. Maybe I could do a list of things I need to make a list of, oh wait, that would be your list above, Vanessa. See what I mean?

    • Don’t worry, Sue – just take things one list at a time. You’ll soon get there 🙂
      Vanessa x

  8. I feel inadequate too. I only had one list today (I’ve ticked off three of the things on the list – only 9 more to go). Will add ‘make more lists’ to the list.

    • Hi Rhoda – at least with only one list, you’re more likely to tick everything off. I’m not sure I’ve ever ticked everything off one of my lists…
      Vanessa x

    • Hi Debs – I also use my love of lists to fuel another addiction; my love of notebooks. It hasn’t got quite as bad as a separate notebook for each list, but it’s getting close 🙂
      Vanessa x

  9. Those are some interesting lists you’ve got there! I’m particularly curious about the last two. Oh the things money can buy. I’m not one for lists, as I rarely ever stick to them, but I understand how fun it can be to draw them out!

    • Oh, I rarely stick to the lists I write – but I feel like a more organised, efficient person just by writing them, which is good enough for me 🙂
      Vanessa x

  10. Yup, I do lists on lovely coloured postits. I stick them on things. They fall off. I forget I’ve done them. I do another lot of lists. I stick them on things….. and you think you have problems?

    • Hmmm… But if you consider each re-written list as a new draft, by about the fourth or fifth, you will have created THE perfect list!
      Vanessa x

  11. Impressive Lists List!

    Do you add things to your lists that you’ve already done, just so you can cross them off and feel as if you’ve achieved something?
    I do.
    NB: then running around the office shouting ‘I’m a winner, I’m a winner,’ is optional.

    Great post!

    • Oh yes – I definitely do this. How else would I ever tick things off? I haven’t tried the running around the office bit yet… Might be one for tomorrow…
      Vanessa x

    • Problem is… I seem to spend more time writing lists than writing books sometimes 🙂
      Vanessa x

  12. Fab post Vanessa. Enjoyed reading how you use lists in your writing. I love lists! In my job I have a list of things that need doing (but do get ticked off – but I often find that when one task is completed there are then a host of other things that need doing from that task lol) and even at home if I think of something for work I make a list. I have a list for my reading schedule and lists of when blog posts are coming out and if I need to copy a review onto Amazon/GR. Before we go on holiday I make a list for myself and then others too in my family. In fact any excuse for a list 🙂

    • Ah – someone who has as many lists on the go as me! I knew there were others out there 🙂
      Vanessa x

  13. Vanessa what a good blog. Must add to my list 1. Get webpage, 2, Write blog, 3, lists of topics for blog.
    I do make a short list each day of the main things that must be done and hope I tick as many as I can. Items on lists mean they are not pushing in the way and the mind is free to think other things. Hopefully not more for the list. If I listed ‘all’ I needed to do I think it would scare me rigid. Perhaps you could try a tiny list of must do’s.
    I can feel your excitment as I read and I think I would feel so overwhelemed I would achieve less. If that is possible. My life might have been wasier if I had wrwitten lists when I was younger instead of flying by the seat of my pants.

    • Thanks for the comments! I think sometimes there’s a lot to be said for flying by the seat of your pants – it’s a teeny bit possible that the odd one or two of my lists could be a form of procrastination… Just a couple more lists and then I’ll definitely write the chapter… 🙂
      Vanessa x

  14. I’ve just been making a list of things I’ve eaten today. Most of them seem to be salad.#howlongcanthisdietlast? Keep up the list frenzy, my friend – it can only do you good!

    • Celia – I find that making lists of what I’ve eaten just makes me hungry – and never for more salad 🙂
      Vanessa xx

  15. I have so many lists I’ve no idea what I’m doing. They seem to be reproducing, especially with the start of a new school year. I use spreadsheets for writing-related stuff and update them using pretty colours. Like the sound of the iPhone app Catherine mentions-not sure what my husb would think though!

  16. Ooh, I love a good list too! I’m definitely going to check out the iphone app Catherine mentioned. Going to pop that on my list for tomorrow. 😉 Great post,Vanessa. xx

  17. I am a list maker too. They make me feel organised and in control of what is in reality a chaotic life of working 3 jobs, enjoying family time and squeezing in writing time.

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