Try 101

Practice — Process — Projects

Category: Listing for Fun

To Do List

by mark neely

If you keep a “things to do” list, you know there is no magic moment when everything is checked off and you no longer have “things to do.”

If you ever have achieved this magic moment you are 1) unemployed, 2) childless, and 3) have a live-in chef/housekeeper. Or maybe you are just incredibly efficient and organized. If so, I don’t like you.

“Things to do” can get in the way of the things you want to do. These things are always an excellent excuse. Answering email or going to the grocery store are both easier and require less thought than writing chapter three. I have a friend who calls this (substituting one task for a harder task) “virtuous procrastination.”


Usually “things to do” come first–they are pressing, urgent, affect the lives of family and colleagues.

But if I let my to-do list stop me from writing for very long I become listless, angry, despairing, impossible, or some combination of the four.

Although it isn’t always possible, there are times when I put writing first, and the to-do list second, knowing I will pay for it later.

Here is a different kind of list. Things I do when I want to get my writing blood cells moving towards the brain. Read the rest of this entry »

Take what you’ve got and make do

by kathrinewright

Five minutes to read a poem, write a list, look for a form, imagine a character – where she was born, how he wakes, his/her favorite ice cream topping, the memory that pops up when it rains, to open that window, let the air in, just five minutes.

Ten minute to find the groove, flex the muscle, capture the lines that sketch the character to life, to find her a disaster to attach to, to figure out the secret that keeps them doing or keeps them from doing the thing that makes the story.

Five minutes to trace a work back in the OED, to fall in love with the word’s home, to picture it formed in the mouth of that century, to watch it form on the page with other words, to love how it moves.

Ten minutes to research your way through a poem, to figure out the form of a sestina, to take on an ode, to start your way in.

Five minutes to mark up a page, to read it, know the words that don’t belong, to rearrange, reconsider, reapply, remember. The spark that got you going. The one that may no longer matter, now that you’re on this side. But maybe.

Ten minutes. Times two, minus seven, plus eleven, divided by 4. However many that is, it’s something. It’s not zero. Start there

30 Things About the Author

by kathrinewright

  1. The author will experiment with her newest work, hot off the printer. Be forewarned. It may be rough.
  2. The author will not tell you what she means.
  3. The author does or does not claim that any of the events of this novel happened to her.
  4. The author spends more money at the big box bookstore than she should. She also spends too much at the indie bookstore down the street.
  5. The author will quickly be out louded by the smartassed and slightly batshit extrovert yammering about their blog in the Q&A
  6. The author sometimes loves to be anonymous.
  7. The author would appreciate it if you cry softly while she reads that one poem.
  8. The author took a long, long time to figure out the way to story that story. She writes and rewrites it still.
  9. The author does or does not have thirteen types of tea in her cupboard.
  10. The author has lost many journals.
  11. The author abandoned writing in journals several years ago and now only writes in front of a screen.
  12. The author, upon finishing that poem/story/essay/novel, has no idea what it means.
  13. The author may or may not be happy with that much ambiguity.
  14. The author grew up in the gender-bending eighties. She thinks it smart that you never forget that.
  15. The author might love you just little bit. If you.
  16. The author may not give one flying fuck about you.
  17. The author may be a little afraid that no one will be at her reading.
  18. The author is definitely afraid that there will be so many people she will not be able to speak. She prefers it this way.
  19. In the middle of the reading, the author’s brain will spasm, and she will forget something important she wanted to tell you.
  20. You may or may not be the character upon which much vitriol is heaped.
  21. You may or may not recognize yourself as they character she may or may not portray you as.
  22. You may see yourself where you are not.
  23. The author will need to find another character to love/hate tomorrow.
  24. The author will find this terrifying. Less terrifying than any other option.
  25. The author is a trap.
  26. The author plays terrible, sappy stuff on a defunct music player to write a certain kind of poem.
  27. The author knows only a shallow grave of what she’s talking about.
  28. The author knows the minutia of her subject, and is consumed by it, and you would not believe how much she kept out of the chapter, just to keep you here.
  29. The author will love one chapter just a little too much, for reasons only she will or will not understand.
  30. The author will love this moment. And this one. And this one.

Listing for Fun: List of Lists

by tjbeitelman

List of things about J.D. Salinger.
List of things about 1948.
List of things about WWII.
List of films I want to teach.
List of films my students want me to teach.
List of novels I want to teach.
List of novels my students want me to teach.
List of students I will recommend highly for various accolades and opportunities.
List of things that make places places.
List of things that make time time.
List of imagined and/or imminent lists.


Listing for Fun (+ a few Notes-to-Self)

by tjbeitelman

I spent most of the day making a syllabus for one of my classes this semester.

(I teach writing at a specialty high school. But I’ve talked about that before.)

I devoted a lot of the day to making a simple, bulleted list of expectations.

As a teacher, I know it’s really important for me to articulate what I expect from my students, and I spent some time doing that.

But a really smart man once told me that you can make an even bigger impression by articulating what people can expect from you.

I spent most of my time today doing that. Honestly, I’d never done it before. Not in this context, maybe not ever. Certainly not in such simple, direct terms. Not in writing.

One cool thing was that, after listing what these people can expect from me, it was way, way easier for me to identify my expectations of them. That second list just sort of wrote itself.

And, in the process, it was easier to see where and why the two lists of expectations should mirror each other. (“If I expect this from them, they have a right to expect the  very same thing from me.”)

It was also easier to see how the lists should complement each other. (“If I promise them X, then they should feel free/encouraged/safe/obliged to do Z.”)

Maybe most important, it was easy to see the boundaries. How, because I am who I am and they are who they are, completely different expectations and responsibilities apply. How and why those fault lines are necessary. How most good relationships — of any kind — can’t exist without them.

So. Yeah. Things just got, I don’t know, a little clearer for me.

I know a little bit more about why I do what I do. And how to do it well.

Which is huge.

And it all started with me staking a claim to a list of promises to these people I care about: This is who I am, this is what I will do, and you can hold me to it.

(So. What can people hold you to? I don’t expect [!] you to put it in the comments section here [though you can if you want to, of course]. I do encourage you to make the list though.)

Listing for Fun: Visual Treats

by ajanefountas

1. Andrea Dezsö’s tunnel books, embroidery, animation, and more

2. Rodarte’s The Curve of Forgotten Things

3. Maira Kalman’s New Yorker covers

4. Nicoletta Ceccoli’s paintings

5. JAK & JIL’s fashion photos

Listing for Fun: *Vocations I Might Try in Another Life (If I Were So Inclined)

by laura didyk

1. Actress (movies, not plays).
2. Professional chef.
3. Librarian.
4. Owner of super cool office supply store (specializing in hard-to-find Japanese and Korean stationary).
5. Motivational speaker. (Though I would not make people walk across hot coals and burn their feet, thus ruining my reputation.)
6. Stand-up comedienne.
7. Park ranger.
8. Rock n roller.
9. Cliff dweller (off the grid, way out).
10. Filmmaker (writer, director, all of it).

*I realize that many of these “vocations” are things I could pursue, in this lifetime, but I probably won’t, so it’s fun to dream.

Listing for Fun: Who can resist a list? At Try we have our signature “30 Things I Love Right Now” list, but what about lists that fall outside of (or inside of) “30″ and you want to hone down “things” to something more specific? List away (in the same vein as the editor’s) in the comments section!