Not Your Nano day 11 – breaking it all down


Today I am overwhelmed. I’ve started everything late, I had to pay a library fine so high the Librarian even remarked that it was my highest fine ever (R24, guys, I swear my brain has shut down for summer.) My house is a mess, my children are reading instead of doing their actual homework (this…is problematic, but not that problematic. I’d rather Lord of the Rings than meth, yanno.) The laundry is refusing to hang itself, dishes are breeding in murky dishwater, I’m scared of what might be living in my fridge, and I have to write this blog and sound like…I dunno, someone with a brain cell, and then write my words and today just feels like The Suck.

Enter the list

(also enter my 15 minute timer and my Square Brackets, but that will come later.)

Some days I just need to break my life down into tiny steps that I can mark off and feel the faint buzz of accomplishment. And by sometimes I mean almost all the time. There’s something about being able to tick stuff off (even when that stuff is “pick up dog poo” or “shower.” (Ah! The glamorous life of the writer!)) that allows me to feel a tiny bit in control.

If you’re feeling overwhelmed, maybe a list will come in handy – just remember to keep the tasks small (“sweep lounge” rather than “clean house”) and use your timer to give you an ending so it feels like a small manageable chunk. Take things one at a time. And remember the same holds true for the making of stories.

There’s a little book by Anne Lamott called Bird by Bird which also talks about this idea of breaking things into small pieces, and taking it step by step. You write a novel word by word, just need to concentrate on one line at a time.


“Almost all good writing begins with terrible first efforts. You need to start somewhere.”
― Anne Lamott, Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life

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