BY MONIQUE QUINTANA
I have written many to-do lists in the past and over time have come to see the value of writing down my intentions. I see these as two very different kinds of writing. Over the years, I began to view to-do lists as check-off lists, and I found myself getting discouraged when I wasn’t able to check something off my list. Being a mother, student, teacher, and writer, I found that writing down my intentions at the start of my day was much more conducive to my outlook. I wanted to integrate more writing rituals to end my day and to end my week.
This summer, I began to list books in a notebook as I read them. Eventually I began to write about what stood out to me about each book. Then I began to include more lists I felt would be beneficial to my personal growth.
I realized that I was listing in reverse, and I began to feel a sense of confidence as I began to add things to the list. I began to write down more of these kinds of lists in a journal.
Here are three kinds of reverse lists I use daily and weekly:
- Things That I Read (I use the word "Things" so that I can include all texts, not just books.)
- Things That I Wrote
- Individuals That I Connected With
I usually list whatever pops in my head. I think of this as "quick listing." Then I may write notes for each entry on a list. I’ll jot down observations, inquiries, and things that have struck me as odd or interesting.
I have also begun to recognize patterns of behavior and current points of interest. Recently, I realized that I was predominantly reading poetry collections, and this led me to reflect on why reading that genre was so significant to me at that point in time. I thought about what I was learning from reading poetry collections and it helped me to learn more about myself as a reader and writer.
Reverse Listing has helped me to recognize my daily and weekly accomplishments rather than focus on the things I didn’t get done. It has also helped me to value the process rather than just finished tasks. Sometimes, I may not be able to finish reading an entire book or complete a story or meet up with all of my friends, but I now have a way to document my personal progress and recognize the profundity in a single day.
Monique Quintana is a contributing writer at Clash Media and Senior Beauty Editor at Luna Luna Magazine. She holds an MFA in Creative Writing from CSU Fresno, and her work has appeared in Huizache, Bordersenses, and The Acentos Review, among other publications. She is a member of the Central Valley Women Writers Color Collective and teaches English at Fresno City College.