How To Knock Off Your To-Do List

Hi. I’m back. At least for today.

spamI figured I could send you all a spammy email about my Promising New Technique For Getting Things Done!!!!!!!!! Or I could post this on my long-dormant blog. I’m guessing you deduced which route I took. Because you’re all super smart like that.

Have you been meaning to, say, vacuum? Exercise? Straighten up or at least eliminate the tumbleweed problem in your dining room? Post on your long-dormant blog? I have figured out a way to get all that done. And more!

Decide to write a novel.

And then, when it’s time to sit down and do the actual writing, you’ll find yourself accomplishing feats you never thought possible!

IMG_0247I took a wonderful class with Patti Gauch at the Highlights Foundation two weeks ago and I came home raring to go. For that whole hilly drive home, ideas and excitement, plot lines and emotional growth were bursting with impatience to get out of my head and onto paper.

Patti is a uniquely brilliant teacher. She taught us (there were eleven of us) what I would have guessed was unteachable–first showing examples of very particular techniques in books she admired–mostly by Gary Schmidt–and then sending us off to write. And she keeps sending us these lovely, inspiring emails. It’s almost enough to make me actually sit down and write!

I came home wanting to ignore the demands of daily life. I wanted to lock myself away and write, write, write. But days passed before I found the time to sit. And then I realized it was really important that I vacuum. And start to clean my office. Also, Thanksgiving’s really soon and we can’t have dinner for 27 with our house looking like THIS.

Edith HoughtonNow you, too, can be super-productive like me. It helps if you say it out loud, too. Like, “Hey friend, I’m planning to work on my novel today.” And then just wait! You might even do some not-novel-writing writing. I did! I handed in the probably-not-even-due-yet Author’s Note for my next nonfiction picture book, With a Baseball in her Hand. About this girl right here, Edith Houghton. I could look at that picture all day. And I might. Did I mention I’m writing a novel?

It’s simple. You can “write a novel” too!  Try it!

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4 Responses to How To Knock Off Your To-Do List

  1. Mary Zisk says:

    When I was learning to write my first novel, I devoured The Wednesday Wars by Gary Schmidt. I highlighted, underlined, wrote things like “inciting incident” and “foreshadow” all through the book. I’m glad your great teacher Patti recommends my great teacher Gary. Have a blast writing your new novel. My daughter just reminded me that we have two vacuum cleaners, both broken–so I don’t have that distraction and I’d better get writing too.

  2. Joanne Fritz says:

    Gary Schmidt is one of my favorites too. Have you read Lizzie Bright? It’s gorgeous. And both of my vacuum cleaners are broken also. This month I finally got back to a long-dormant YA novel and wrote 15K words in two weeks. Most productive I’ve been all year. Thanks for the smile this post brought to me, Audrey. Now please get back to writing. I loved Screaming at the Ump and want to read your next novel.

  3. literaryfriendships says:

    I love that you both mentioned these two books–Wednesday Wars and Lizzie Bright. Lizzie was a book we read before the class, and Patti referenced it frequently. And Wednesday Wars was one she suggested I read based on what I’m writing. I had occasion to have dinner with Gary Schmidt a year ago (David Weisner and Karen Cushman too!) and I HAD LARYNGITIS! So he didn’t share his trade secrets with me because I couldn’t ask him to!

    • Joanne Fritz says:

      Rats! How ironic is that? Laryngitis! Although, come to think of it, if I had dinner with Gary Schmidt, Karen Cushman, and David Weisner, I’d probably be too awed to speak anyway.

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