Monday, March 25, 2019

Oops ... I Forgot to Write a Title

By Yolanda Smith

I’m a fantastic forgetter. I’ve advanced through the ranks until I earned my PhD in the subtle art of forgettery. My cup of coffee is never where I last left it. Folks I’ve known for years stop to say hello and, without warning, their names tumble headfirst into my mental basement. I forget to write items on my Walmart list, neglect to carry said list inside the store, and cannot recall where I parked my car when I exit the building.

No surprise, but this transfers smoothly to my writing life. I sit at my keyboard to click clack my thoughts and soon forget the most important, basic elements required for a robust writing session. If I want to be successful, I need an abundance of external reminders of what my essentials are.

To combat my lack of recall, I have strategically placed single and double-word notes in locations where my eyes dart most when I glance away from my computer. I’m sharing my list with you in hopes that 1) you won’t judge me too harshly for disremembering elementary stuff, and 2) you’ll be stimulated to admit your own struggles consider which words and phrases might top your own list of vital reminders.

I change my memos as needed, but these are my current sticky notes:

When I am in the throes of churning out chunks of material, I forget to get out of my seat. If I don’t take a break every twenty to thirty minutes, stretch my muscles and get my blood flowing, I end up with a migraine.

Make Me Care
This is the voice of my reader whispering in my ear. If I bore her, I’ve committed one of the cardinal sins of writing. One of my ultimate goals when writing, whether fiction or nonfiction, is to make my reader care. I want to compel her to take my words to heart.

Multiple writers, myself included, struggle with ADD/ADHD. Perhaps that’s not part of your personal toil package, but I’m guessing you face any number of other distractions. When my mind wanders, I tend to … And then I … Until I see my FOCUS memo, and it drives me to return to the task at hand.

So What?
Sometimes, when my writing journey is at peak stress level my normal concerns tip over the edge into Worryland. One of the best exercises I use when I’m worried is to take my concern to its potential outcome with the question, “So what?”
I might not win the contest I entered.
So what?
I didn’t get the agent I was hoping for.
So what?
So what if I never get published? 
The answers to these questions help me identify where my priorities are (and discover my hidden idols in the process). Because in light of eternity with Christ, and his relationship with me here on earth, most of my so-whats fall into the right perspective or fizzle into nothingness.

This thought is a companion to “So what.” It is crucial for me to remember God owns my writing life. He put me on this journey, and He can change course any time. I must carry it all in open palms for Him to shape, use, or discard as He sees fit. Without reminders, my resting hands morph into a tight-fisted grip.

This one is a no-brainer, but since I’m amazing at forgetting, I keep ASK in the most prominent spot on my desk. I am abundantly aware if I’m to write anything worth reading, I need the Lord’s help. But sometimes, if I’m not careful, that awareness sits like a dusty book on a shelf. Being aware of a need is not the same as doing something about it. The simplest thing in the world is to request aid, but it’s astonishing how quickly I forget to ask God for help.

Odds and Ends
I keep many other reminders tacked on my board and scattered across my desk. Bible verses, inspirational quotes, and craft must-dos are dispersed throughout my workspace. These are often large Post-it® notes, and I’m not as apt to read them if I’m in a hurry. That’s why I keep the most significant missives reduced to one or two key words written on separate, brightly colored notes so they’ll leap out at me.

Oddly Enough
It isn’t imperative to remember all the things at once. A quick glance at one dominant word can jog my memory and put me on the path of productivity and creativity. And my reminders aren’t perennial. Some of them turn into habits by and by. The Lord is always challenging and changing me, and that’s what I love most about this writing life.

Do you keep reminders handy in your workspace? I’d love to hear your list. Do you have another method for remembering priorities when you write?

Photos courtesy of, Stuart Miles, and Yolanda Smith).


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