Thursday, June 24, 2010

Allie Pleiter on the "Finding Nemo" Factor

Writers are curious creatures. We do the oddest things for work, staring into a computer screen while whole worlds spin themselves into being inside our heads. That’s the art.

But writers also deal with all kinds of deadlines, and it’s a business no matter how much art we relish. So I’ve become a student of how art gets done on time. It’s taught me a lot about how life gets done on time.

I’m a list-maker. I’ve got all kinds of computerized programs and planning documents. A list of paper is one thing, however. A list accomplished is a whole other ball game. Especially for us distractable arty types.


Or, more precisely, what I call the Finding Nemo Factor. Remember Marlin, Nemo’s dad in the movie? He was a on a mission. He hated distractions, he was focused on one thing and one thing only. If you’re a Marlin, it helps you to bunch like tasks together. All your writing stuff on Tuesdays, all your grocery shopping for the week done on Thursday, you probably exercise at the same time every day, etc. So when you look at your “to do” list, and you number it to do 1 first, then 2, then 3--an absolutely vital step lots of folks omit but is actually the single most productive thing you can do--it’s best to bunch like things together. You won’t like a writing task poking its head into all your church tasks, or a load of laundry showing up in the middle of your crafting day.

Then there are the Dorie’s, like me. Distractable. Fidgety. We can barely sit still long enough to bang out our word count for the day. I have to alternate sitting with movement tasks because I can’t sit still for long. It’d probably be dangerous for me to go off to a cabin in the woods to finish my novel. I’d go bonkers--well, more bonkers. I have to mix it up all day long in order to keep my energy fired up. That’s not bad, but I need to reflect that as I number my “to do” list.

Learning this about yourself can unlock a great deal of productivity in your day--whether writing is part of it or not.

So...which are you?

(image courtesy of


  1. Great post, Allie! I'm not fidgety (I can sit and write for hours), but I do get distracted. I go into the kitchen to wash some dishes but get off track and end up doing laundry, and while rounding up the dirty clothes, get distracted by a dirty sink...

    You get the picture. Half-done tasks all over the house!

    A list would be nice. I used to make more lists. I should try it again!

  2. I'm a combination. I guess that would make me either Martie or Dortin. I love lists and make them all the time. Crossing items off is a real motivator.

    I, like Missy, have half-done tasks, but even worse, some tasks never get on the list. Like cleaning the top of the fridge. Who would think to put that on top of a list!


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