5 Aug
Posted in: Writing
By    7 Comments

A “Not-to-Do” List for Writers

shutterstock_124904123Everyone has a to-do list. I follow mine religiously. When I get all the boxes checked off for any given week, I feel fabulous. It’s such a great tool to help keep me clear about my goals for each week.

But what about writing down a not-to-do list? I got this idea from Christine Kane’s blog post for entrepreneurs. It’s a great post, but I’ve decided to make my own “Not-to-Do” list for writers.

If you’re like me and love the feeling of checking off boxes to keep yourself on track, then this might be just the thing for you. This is my own list of “Not-to-Do” list for Writers.

No. 1 – Keep on top of Accounting

There’s a lot I’m interested in. Accounting is not one of those things. I geek out about words, not math. Combine math and 1040 form and, if you’re like me, I run away and do the dishes.

I hoard my receipts. Even the ones from the drive through lanes. They get tossed into a box or shuffled to the bottom of my purse. Meanwhile, I spend 10 minute chunks of every day stressing about organizing them, but not. Then on Saturday, my guilt becomes overwhelming. I’ll spend hours in a fit of organizational craziness attempting to figure out – not my budget – but if I should throw out all these little slips of paper that must be important because someone handed them to me with my debit card.

Thank god for online banking. My bank lets me assign categories to each transaction so now I never have to stress about all this paperwork. Now, I just keep the receipt til it shows up in the account and then into the shredder it goes.

Then all the important documents, I send the accountant every spring.

No. 2 – Do Chores

I have a confession to make. I rinse my dishes before I put them in the dishwasher. Sometimes, on particularly grimy pots, I’ll even give them a good swish with my scrubby wand. There’s just something about all the leftover bits and pieces from dinner floating around in the dish washer and bumping up against my coffee mugs in the top shelf that grosses me out.

Thankfully, my hubby finally agreed to help me find the professional help I need: a house cleaner. As one of my favorite magnets says: A mind is too valuable to waste on house work.

No. 3 – That platform thing

E-mail, Facebook, Twitter and my new favorite Pinterest are all time sinks. I tell myself I’ll only be a minute, but then I find this, this, or, even worse, this. (If you value your writing time, don’t click on those links.)

I’ve spent the past five years listening to people talking about the value of building a platform with social media. All I’ve managed to do is waste a lot of writing time. Even though Klout has assigned me a decent rank, what I’ve realized is maybe I shouldn’t worry about it so much. First, I need to write. Otherwise, I won’t have anything to set on my platform.

No. 4 – Be a special little snowflake.

Some writers think they’re going to become published millionaires as soon as they pen “The End.” I used to think a similar variant of this myself. I expect to write this amazing first draft full of butterflies and unicorns that would inspire mass love and money throwing by every New York publisher ever everywhere.

People who believe this are cute. If you suspect I might be talking about you, go join a writing group. It’ll only take a few meetings for said cuteness to disappear. The process is similar to how kids become teenagers.

Sometimes, I wish I were still cute.

No. 5 – Say Yes

Saying ‘yes’ is absolutely the worst possible thing I do as a writer. Whenever anyone asks me to do something, that awful word pops out of my mouth faster than a Jack in the Box. I’m way too darn nice. Curse my good, Christian upbringing.

It’s amazing how quickly time slips by without me noticing. Between family events, friendly gatherings and charity commitments, it’s already August and how many writing goals have I accomplished.

Ugh! I can’t bear to think about that. The important thing to remember here is:

Just say, “No!”

No. 6 – Hate to read

This would be like someone who can’t stand chocolate deciding to become a baker.

A good writer is a good reader. Nuff said.

Now, (WARNING: Shameless plug of fellow Lit Ladies ahead) go read this, this and this.


  • Agree! I spend way too much time on FaceBook, twitter, Pintrest…it is a time sink for sure. I don’t keep our accounting; I set that chore for my husband. If it was up to me we would be penniless and living in a van down by the river, BUT at least I’d have a great view for writing inspiration!

  • I love number 6! LOVE IT! :) So true. I also agree with the just say no thing. What I try to do is balance–if it is my children, family, friends, I say yes more often than if at this time, it is a volunteer thing. I need TIME–it is of the essence. So, I look for little volunteer jobs I can do, and maybe my children or family can help, too, so it’s quality time. But definitely saying no to big time sucks is important! :)

  • Thanks for commenting, guys. Saying no is the hardest thing for me. I have to continually remind myself to myself first. The next hardest thing is the accounting thing. I’m the main money manager in the house, but this year we got an accountant to do our taxes. I don’t know why we never did that sooner. It’s wonderful.

  • I’m so jealous you have a house keeper! That would definitely help with my writing time. And I agree with the social networking. I have to limit my FB time for sure!

  • Love the post! Especially number 4, I was very much a special little snowflake when you first met me 😉 But then reality happened…. (though I still dig a good rainbow ;D)

  • I used to have trouble saying no, but i am slowly changing my ways. Too many things to do and not enough hours in the day.

    Someone once told me to list your goals and keep them handy. Any time you are faced with someone wanting your time, look at your goals. Does what they want you to do help you meet your goals…if not, say no. But, in my opinion, you have to broaden your goals or else if you have real tight, on the mark goals, you’ll become selfish. So my goals always include family.

  • Hi Sarah!…or should I say Geeky Lady?! I’m so glad we met, even though I don’t see you at all anymore! :(
    I loved the “Be a special little snowflake”. (although I agree with what you wrote, aren’t we all still special little snowflakes in this huge universe?!) :)

So, what do you think?