I Do Declare: Checklists are my life

storm-0914-icon-check-13I confess. I’m something of a to-do list fanatic. Give me some lines with checkboxes and I’m in heaven. This is how I keep track of everything in my life.

Over the years I’ve looked into a lot of different systems. And while I haven’t ever found one system that works, I have discovered that I can pull pieces of many different systems and make them work for me.

And that’s what it all comes down to – what works for the individual.

I offer here what’s been working for me (i.e., my compilation of various systems) in the event any of you out there want to take this and incorporate pieces of it for yourself.

This is what it looks like:


I track six days’ worth of activities, and my week is Monday–Sunday, so Saturday and Sunday are lumped together.

After keying in the specific dates (i.e., WEEK OF 7/6 – 7/12), I list in order of importance:

Row 1 – Most Important Things (MITs). These are, as stated, most important. They’re the things that will move my career forward, win the deal, give me a sense of accomplishment, etc. If I accomplish nothing else during the week, I want to hit these.

Row 2 – Tasks. These are not as mission-critical as the MITs, but they’re things that must be done, so I don’t want to lose sight of them.

Row 3 – Routine Items. These are everyday things that I might forget if I get too busy. Plus, I like checking them off. On my list, I have things like doing blog posts, exercising and taking vitamins. (Yes, I am prone to forget to exercise and take vitamins. Seeing it in print is a good reminder.)

Below the three to-do rows is where I list info on my current projects to keep them in front of me.

At the bottom are two “parking lots” where I keep track of things that need to get onto the calendar (i.e., usually into the MIT or Task rows) eventually and the list of long-term projects (e.g., pruning the berry plants, which I won’t do until the Fall).

The page is laid out on 8.5×11, landscape. The gap in the middle of the grid allows you to fold the paper without creasing over any text.

For some people this might look like overkill to the Nth degree. But it’s a system that works really well for me.

If any of you would like a free Word version of this to tinker with on your own, I’m happy to share. Just send me an email at: info <at> gowriterightnow.com (with the @ symbol instead of “<at>”).


New Feature: Cheer Me On!

Your health!No doubt about it, writing is fraught with a range of emotions: self-doubt, joy, fear, exhilaration, concern, achievement. And that’s part of the purpose of this site – to give encouragement and support (maybe even humor) when it’s needed to cheer you on toward the goal line.

Equally emotional is the next step, when you send it out for publication or submit to a competition or put it into the frame for all to see. In fact, that step may require even more of a boost.

I know; I’ve been there. And that’s why I decided to include some of my getting-it-out-there moments along with the results when they come in. It’s important to ask for help, and this is my opportunity to ask you to cheer me on when I send out queries and submittals.


Up first: The Writer’s Lab

Website: https://thewriterslab.nyc/

From the website: The Writers Lab 2018 is supported by Meryl Streep and Nicole Kidman and is produced by New York Women in Film & Television, in collaboration with the Writers Guild of America, East, with support from The Black List, Film Fatales, Tribeca Film Institute, Final Draft, Roadmap Writers, Relativity Ventures, and Stony Brook Southampton + Manhattan. The 2019 Writers Lab will take place October 2-6, 2019.

You are allowed to submit up to three screenplays. I submitted two: a World War II spy thriller and a contemporary supernatural thriller.

Notification date: August 1, 2019.

Cheer me on while I wait!

I Do Declare: Oil is good for us

Olive oilSometimes the questions can nag at us: What are we called to do? Are we actually doing what we were called to do? And the most distracting question of all: How do we know? (Along with its sequels: But how do we know that we know? And how do we know that we know that we know? – etc. until the cows come home.)

I used to torture myself with questions like that until I discovered this reasonable and reassuring way to know:

Check the oil.

 I’m sure that sounds a bit strange, so I’ll upack it for you.

When we’re inside God’s will, we’re anointed for the task. In Old Testament times, when people were anointed, the priest would pour oil on their heads, which signified God’s blessing.

Basically, they were oiled up.

So when we’re inside God’s will, we too are oiled up. Anointed.

Now, think of a car and what it means for the car to be oiled up. That means it runs smoothly, the pistons gliding inside the cylinders with ease, moving the vehicle down the road.

When the car has no oil – that is, when it’s not oiled up, not anointed – it’s basically metal against metal. Friction. Overheating. Sometimes complete engine failure.

In terms of knowing whether we’re doing what we’re made to do, here’s the clue: When we’re anointed for the task, even the struggles are easy to handle. When we’re not, even the easy things are a struggle.

So the next time the questions swoop in, screeching and shrieking and dropping doubts all around your work, don’t let them bury you under their weight.

Just check the oil.


Go Write: Jump Starters

typewriterSometimes it’s hard to get started. This I know all too well, so I am always on the search for ways to kick-start my writing. I’ve found that taking an opening line and free-writing for about 15 minutes usually gives me enough forward motion to get into the story I need to be doing. The cool thing is sometimes those exercises turn into stories themselves.

With that in mind, here are some opening lines to help propel you into your story:

  • The cure for seven deadly diseases sat on the shelf in the room across the hall, and no one could do a damn thing about it.
  • I’ve never quite gotten over my fascination with Milton.
  • There are three perfect ways to die, and by the time she was 23, Sally had learned them all.
  •  I never should have given him the code.
  • Henry happened to be there when the tide pulled a jon-boat past the dock, its hull empty except for a cast net in the bottom, full of shrimp.
  • At some point, all parents have to lie.
  • In the woods behind the house, Mary and Janet found a magic hat.
  • Lord have mercy, the sermon lasted so long I forgot I was still mad at the preacher and shook his hand on the way out without meaning to.
  • Voicing an unpopular opinion on Twitter is to face judge, jury and executioner all at once.
  • No one could have predicted that three hours one afternoon would change the world.

Go write right now!