Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Sorting the “Must-Dos” from the “Should-Dos” by Marie Wells Coutu

Marie Wells Coutu
I returned from a writing conference about two weeks ago, and I’m still working through the things I learned and my list of “To-Dos.”

…And there goes another gopher!


Sorry. We have 13-striped gophers digging up our lawn. The little pests are quick, persistent, and annoying. And they keep distracting us from the more important tasks of mowing the grass, mulching, killing weeds, and enjoying the view.


I learned a lot at the conference—about writing, editing, and marketing. I learned that I “should do” more with social media and my website. I should make sure I have a privacy policy clearly posted on my website and that I am compliant with GDPR regulations. I should send out my newsletter at least monthly. I should learn to use Instagram. I should send thank you notes to the agents and editors I met with. I should check out the websites and apps that can streamline my marketing efforts.

By Phil Myers, Museum of Zoology,
University of Michigan  [Public domain],
via Wikimedia Commons

After all those “should-dos,” where does my writing fit in? That, for me, has to be a “Must-Do,” but it often gets shunted aside.


It’s the perennial battle for writers—learning to focus on the writing without getting sidetracked by the gophers (as in “go” to Facebook, Pinterest, Goodreads).


I don’t have easy answers. I know these are the things I must do, if I want to succeed at being a professional writer:


  • Send those thank you notes. (Check.)
  • Revise my WIP based on what I learned. (In progress.)
  • Figure out the GDPR requirements. (Not started yet.)
  • Stay active on social media, but limit my time there—30 minutes a day should be enough. (Working on it.)
  • Develop a plan, a routine that will make those 30 minutes a day more productive an efficient. (Started.)
  • And, of course, write the next book.
Each of those six “Must-Dos” has several parts to it, so it’s not as easy as it looks. And I need to trap the “Should-Do” gophers and leave them in their holes until later.

It’s a never-ending challenge, but it can be done. If I don’t control the “Should-Dos,” the pesky gophers will take over and keep me from the “Must-Dos.”


But knowing that prioritizing is a “Must-Do” doesn’t help me prioritize. So I took a few minutes to look for a program or app that might work. And I found this article (https://zapier.com/blog/best-todo-list-apps/) that discusses the different types of To-Do lists and available apps to help you keep track.


I’m not sure if any of those apps will work for me, so for now, I think I’ll go back to my old stand-by prioritizer that I wrote about here a few months ago (https://seriouslywrite.blogspot.com/2018/01/juggling-your-life-by-marie-wells-coutu.html).


Chasing those gophers will probably fall pretty far down the list.


What tips do you have for separating your “Must-Dos” from your “Should-Dos”?


About the Author
The Secret Heart
by Marie Wells Coutu
Marie Wells Coutu began making up stories soon after she began talking. Her most recent title, The Secret Heart, and its prequel, an e-book novelette titled The Divided Heart, are published by Write Integrity Press, along with the award-winning For Such a Moment and Thirsting for More. She and her husband divide their time between Iowa, near their two children and four grandchildren, and Florida, where it’s warm all winter. Marie is working on a historical novel set in western Kentucky, her home state.

Marie is a regular contributor to Seriously WriteFor more posts by Marie, click here.

1 comment:

  1. Marie, Thanks for writing this good post. Those should dos can really make a lot of noise and I love the must dos of writing. My must dos also include several blogs. And I surely spend a lot of time making lists. I think I must have started lists as soon as I knew how to hold a pencil. I am a little jealous though. Your gophers are much cuter than the ones in my yard. Mine have funny buck teeth and pointy noses. Wait. Maybe those are moles.

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