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Big Projects, Small Lists

I’m a total coward. When I’m faced with a big project – something time consuming, something that will require sacrifices to be made – my instinct is to run away. Fast. No looking back. For that reason, it took me a long time to come around to the point where I (somewhat) enjoy the challenge of a big project. I’m talking about something like writing a novel or being in a long-term relationship. These are things that require work. Day after day. Month after month. Year after year.

The funny thing is that a key method I use to confront these big projects is so simple, so low-tech (so cheap in therapy costs!) that it almost seems like it’s cheating. If you’ve read Keith Kronin’s post about outlining [1] last week, you’ve already got the gist of it. But I take this further than outlining. I basically organize almost every aspect of my life using lists. Some lists are informational (5 things my character loves to say), some are task-oriented lists (4 people I need to interview for book), and some lists fall somewhere in between (3 chapters that eventually need to be revisited). And just like Keith explained about his outlines, these lists are a lot less formal and less tedious than you think. They aren’t things that you need to present to others on 24 lb. résumé paper. They only have to be (relatively) comprehensible to you at a later time.

But there’s more. I also have some specific rules to make sure these lists remain relevant and don’t leave me intimidated. Here is a video where I explain it in more detail:

So what do you think? Do you have similar (or totally opposing) techniques to manage your big projects?

About Yuvi Zalkow [2]

Yuvi Zalkow [3]'s first novel was reluctantly published in 2012 by MP Publishing. His forthcoming novel will be published by Red Hen Press. His stories and essays have been published in Glimmer Train, Narrative Magazine, Carve Magazine, The Daily Dot, Rosebud, The Poop Report, and others. He occasionally makes YouTube videos and apps for iPhones. Check out his website [4] if you actually want to find out more.