3 Reasons I Hate Lists

They drive me crazy!

Lists whisper to me in the darkness of night, they derail my imagination as I sit by the crackling fire reading a good book, and worst of all, scoff at my ineptness with scorn, so I’ve decided to get back at THEM by writing my own list of why I hate lists:

Reason 1 -They’re sneaky

When you read a list, you think you’re getting condensed easily readable information in a format you’re familiar with. All good things. But in fact, the structure of the information is authoritarian and rigid. There’s an ordering of ideas and an unwritten expectation layered between the lines that sneaks up on you.

Reason 2 – They’re never done

When you finish one list, you make another. That’s the way of life.

Reason 3 – They bite worse than bed bugs

Lying in wait they attack me at night and don’t let go. Their venom slithers through my veins and echoes in my heart. Can’t say it any more simply. They bite.

Interesting Lists for Writers:

All the above having been said, there are juicy good lists.

I was forwarded a great article, by Helen Dunmore, “What Will Survive Us Is Love”, (on the Brain Picking website) about lists for writers.

My favorite was Elmore Leonards:

  1. Never open a book with the weather.
  2. Avoid prologues.
  3. Never use a verb other than “said” to carry dialogue.
  4. Never use an adverb to modify the verb “said.”
  5. Keep your exclamation points under control!
  6. Never use the words “suddenly” or “all hell broke loose.”
  7. Use regional dialect, patois, sparingly.
  8. Avoid detailed descriptions of characters.
  9. Same for places and things.
  10. Leave out the parts readers tend to skip.

“Ooooooooooh!” says me.

Thought Provoking Words

And on a final note, watching the survival saga of the publishing industry is a bit like entering a Roman forum.  Fascinating, but bloody.

“A combined Penguin-Random House, which would control a quarter of the global book market, is a conglomerate designed to take on another giant, though it’s not exactly a fair fight. Because the new entity will only have about a twelfth of Amazon’s annual sales, most observers expect that this is just the beginning of a series of mergers — like those in the music business — that will take the Big Six publishers down to the Big Three and perhaps one day even the Big One.” (Adam Davidson, “How Dead is the Book Business?”, New York Times, 2012-11-13)

Now I’m off to have my tea leaves read with friends. Hope you stomp on your chore list and have a great weak.

Author: Jo-Ann Carson

About Jo-Ann Carson Where magic happens … Reports of Jo-Ann Carson’s death on a Gulf Island are greatly exaggerated or, at the very least, premature. The eclectic crew of ghosts that haunt her head spill onto the page in two series: The Gambling Ghosts and The Ghost & Abby Mysteries. A Viking with existential issues, a broken hearted Highlander, a Casanova man-witch and a Pirate with a secret are just a few of the males her strong heroines encounter in tales of fantasy, adventure and romance. A firm believer in the magic of our everyday lives, Jo-Ann loves watching sunrises, walking beaches near her home in the Pacific Northwest and reading by the fire. You can visit her on social media: Website * Blog * Twitter * Facebook

10 thoughts on “3 Reasons I Hate Lists”

  1. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve jumped out of bed to add something to the next days to-do list. I’m supposed to be relaxing into a peaceful night’s sleep, not worrying about how much I have to do the following day. *sigh*


  2. Jo-Ann, I can’t live without my lists! I love ’em. And, Missy, when I jump out of bed and write the note, then I can relax and sleep. All the “todos” if I can’t see them listed out, make me nuts. I’m like a gerbil running on its wheel. I even number items in the order I need to do them. If your list includes errands to be run, and you don’t number them, you can end up running all over town, wasting time and gas. Much more efficient to make the list and figure the route.
    Knowing how I could go, I’m forcing myself to stop with I LOVE LISTS! LOL


    1. Marsha
      Really, you love lists? Seriously? I use lists, but I could never say I love them.
      I get what you’re saying, though, they are mighty handy.
      Thanks for your comment.


    1. P.I.
      Thanks for your comment. It looks like the list people are tipping the scales here. lol. She said as she strode across the room. I see what you mean.
      Best wishes


  3. I too feel bullied by my lists but I do make them, and if I’m really desperate I categorize them into ‘at home to-do’, and ‘about town’ and then there are the garden chore lists, and now we are heading into the Xmas to-do lists. Ulp! I love Xmas but I’m way behind on my Xmas cards and it’s already December 16th. I have this unrealistic plan each year, that if I were to start on November the 1st and write one Xmas letter per day, I would not feel so stressed later in December.


    1. Hi Daniela
      I agree lists are stressful. Unfortunately I’d be more stressed without lists. Writing things down is therapeutic for me. I bet you write awesome Christmas cards.


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