A List of Alphabetical Advice 


 “If it is not right do not do it; if it is not true do not say it.”
Marcus Aurelius

Emily Craven gifted me the little Typo journal above for Christmas in 2013. We have been writing in it every day since January 2014, responding to the journal prompts and the other prompts we’ve added to avoid the repetition of prompts like: ________ is a total babe.

Instagram and Twitter chronicle our our daily adventures and sometimes we’re lucky to have someone play along at home. We’ve been blessed this year to have Typo’s social media person on board with us.


August has a cluster of prompts (brain child of Em) to create an alphabetical list of advice. Rob Cook joined  and it was one of the most interactive and fun set of prompts we’ve done. I missed out on writing them last year (it was the precursor to The Churn) so I’m looking forward to next year when I’ll be able to do a compare and contrast.

For now, advice a la 2016.

Always be your most authentic self.

Behave with kindness and integrity.

Care of yourself IS a priority.

Devote time, energy and focus to the pursuits you love.

Evolve. Evolve-evolve-evolve.

Focus on the present; nothing can be done about the past and the future takes care of itself.

Go after your dreams; passion is your ally.

Hope keeps the glass half-full.

Innovate. Innovate-innovate-innovate.

Judge no-one, especially yourself.

Keep the faith, especially when despair threatens to swallow you.

Listen to your favourite songs in the shower.

Meditate. Appreciate. Invigorate.

Never give up. It you can’t be your own cheer squad let your friends shake the pompoms for you.

Open to adventure, curiosity and absurdity.

Perfection is only found in imperfection.

Quiet time is essential – however or wherever you find it.

Rest. Life is a marathon, not a sprint. Bodies get old and tired.

Sing. Loudly. Offkey. For your own pleasure. Because you can.

Time travel will enrich your life.

Utilise your inherent skills and talents. This is how dreams bloom.

Voraciousness is not a sin. Celebrate your hungers.

Wing it. Sometimes the best plans, best ideas come together in motion.

X marks the spot. Know where your inner treasure is buried.

You are both your best friend and worst enemy. Choose wisely.

Zebras; because sometimes its good to be black and white.

If you were to collect your advice for life in an A-Z, how would it read?


How I Catalogue the Chaos

Adam’s got a great post up today: Cataloguing the Chaos. It really helped me dissect my organisational skills in a way I hadn’t thought of previously.

I have the capacity to be disorganised. If the regularity with which I have to ring my mobile to find it is any indication of the level of disorganisation in my grey matter, you’ll understand my compulsive list making tendencies. The brain can only hold so much in short term memory and I often max it out between business and writing and the other things life insists you attend to. I also found coming out of my last bout of depression at the start of the year, my memory just wasn’t what it used to be.

The Week Starts Here

The first thing I do on Monday morning (well okay, after I’ve brewed tea) is open my diary and write a comprehensive to do list. This tames the swirling miasma of chaos and contains it to a single page.

I have a Moleskine diary that has the dates on one side and a page opposite to accommodate the list writing. It is both a ready reference and constant companion, so much so, by the end of the week the ink has faded from sitting open in the sun.

Lately I’ve gone from using pencil (even if it is easier to rub out) to using coloured ink. In the absence of any artistic talent beyond the odd wonky stick man, this is how I make the dry process of diary keeping and lists making juicy. I’m surprised at how a visually appealing to do list makes it easier to tackle. Highlighting important dates, while adding additional splashes of colour, ensures I don’t miss them.

Being organised on a Monday morning means I can than move on and flag any important dates with other people I’m working with, and the gears of the machine are oiled and move with precision.

Multiple Projects

I’m a terrible one for working on multiple project–simultaneously. I believe it is, in part, an artifact of last year: taking on too much, crashing and burning too often, saying yes when no was the appropriate answer and generally being someone who is naturally drawn to lots of different things at the one time.

Keeping an itemised list of all the things I’m working on helps me to see what’s on the go on any given week, quickly and easily, and where the priorities lie (what appears at the top of the list). It also means I can decide what I want to, or need to, work on the following day.

List Everything

Where possible I break down every task into its smallest unit size. On one hand it makes the list longer, and therefore possibly more daunting, but the reverse of this is tasks get completed and crossed off quickly. I’m a big one for momentum begetting momentum.

Several weeks ago I achieved a first, with the exception of getting back to my studies, I crossed everything off my list, added more and crossed it off too. There is nothing like hitting the weekend knowing you’ve achieved what you set out to do at the start of the week.

Separating Work and Pleasure

You’ll notice my to do list is divided into two: on the left side my editing and publishing responsibilities and on the other side what I want to achieve each week with my writing. Anything that doesn’t get crossed off is transferred across to the next week, as a way of keeping myself honest.

This week, as you’ll see above, is the first where the writing column is longer than the editing and publishing column. Keeping lists has enabled me to see how I’ve slowly transitioned into my sabbatical and how, yes, I’m almost fully there. It’s also a log of what I’ve worked on, what I’ve submitted, what I’ve completed and what’s still brewing.

Curbing the Outer Chaos

Life happens. Shit often accompanies it. Recently, more mornings than I care to to number, I’ve sunk into the wrong head-space before I’ve even reached my desk. If it weren’t for the list, I’d be lost. A head-space under siege is where a list comes into its own. When you’ve itemised your tasks down to bite sized pieces even a brain that resembles the mess of a 1000 word jigsaw puzzle just tipped from the box more than a thrumming set of circuits, can find something to start on until the head-space realigns.

Return of Chaos Theory

I know when I’ve succumbed to chaos. The diary disappears, the lists disappear and I lurch from one task to another and every second emails begins with “I’m sorry”. I’m embarrassed to admit I didn’t keep a diary or write lists for most of last year (the most chaotic of my entire adult life). I put it down to being unable to find ‘the right’ diary, but it really was a case of the horse bolting and never actually catching it.

I know better now. Thanks to Adam’s post, I understand this is my way of harnessing the chaos, rather than just being a bit of pedant who likes the look of her own writing on the page.

Five Tips For Taming The Chaos

  1. Have a diary and keep it handy. Put everything in there so you have a single overview of the week at your finger tips.
  2. Use your diary for dates and lists.
  3. Break your list into the different projects you’re currently working on. If it makes sense, make a division between business and pleasure.
  4. Break your list down further into small, easy to do tasks where possible
  5. Make your diary and your lists visually appealing and easy to follow. That way you’ll want to look at it.

Angus and Robertson’s Top 100 Books

Last year Paul Anderson and I got wrapped up in book lists – exploring the Waterstone’s Toast of the Century, the 106 books considered literary ornaments, as well a the 1001 Book You Must Read Before You Die. At the time I felt a little miffed. The lists were either American or English. What did Aussies think about books?

Angus and Robertson released last October (after the flurry of book lists had subsided in our blogspheres) their 100 Most Popular Books – compiled from 26,000 public votes here in Australia.

The list follows along with the books I have read in bold and the books on my to read list in italics? Here’s hoping I can fare better here than on the other lists.

1 Harry Potter series – J.K. Rowling

2 Twilight – Stephenie Meyer

3 Pride and Prejudice – Jane Austen

4 The Obernewtyn Chronicles – Isobelle Carmody

5 My Sister’s Keeper – Jodi Picoult

6 To Kill A Mockingbird – Harper Lee

7 The Book Thief – Markus Zusak

8 Breath – Tim Winton

9 The Kite Runner – Khaled Hosseini

10 Break No Bones – Kathy Reichs

11 The Power Of One – Bryce Courtenay

12 Fight Club – Chuck Palahniuk

13 Magician – Raymond E. Feist

14 The Bronze Horseman – Paullina Simons

15 Mao’s Last Dancer – Li Cunxin

16 Memoirs Of A Geisha – Arthur Golden

17 The Lovely Bones – Alice Sebold

18 Cross – James Patterson

19 Persuasion – Jane Austen

20 Jane Eyre – Charlotte Bronte

21 The Time Traveler’s Wife – Audrey Niffenegger

22 The Secret – Rhonda Byrne

23 Marley and Me – John Grogan

24 Antony and Cleopatra – Colleen McCullough

25 April Fools Day – Bryce Courtney

26 North & South – Elizabeth Gaskell

27 In My Skin – Kate Holden

28 Wuthering Heights – Emily Bronte

29 A Thousand Splendid Suns – Khaled Hosseini

30 The Other Boleyn Girl – Phillipa Gregory

31 Nineteen Minutes – Jodi Picoult

32 Atonement – Ian McEwan

33 Shantaram Gregory – David Roberts

34 Pillars Of The Earth – Ken Follett

35 The Pact – Jodi Picoult

36 Ice Station – Matthew Reilly

37 Cloudstreet – Tim Winton

38 Jessica – Bryce Courtenay

39 A New Earth – Eckhart Tolle

40 The Princess Bride – William Goldman

41 Running With Scissors – Augusten Burroughs

42 Anybody Out There? – Marian Keyes

43 Life Of Pi – Yann Martel

44 Seven Ancient Wonders – Matthew Reilly

45 People Of The Book – Geraldine Brooks

46 Six Sacred Stones – Matthew Reilly

47 Memory Keeper’s Daughter – Kim Edwards

48 Brother Odd – Dean Koontz

49 Tully – Paullina Simons

50 Tuesdays with Morrie – Mitch Albom

51 The Catcher in the Rye – J.D Salinger

52 Eragon – Christopher Paolini

53 Eat, Pray, Love – Elizabeth Gilbert
54 It’s Not About The Bike – Lance Armstrong

55 A Tale of Two Cities – Charles Dickens

56 A Fine Balance – Rohinton Mistry

57 The Alchemist – Paulo Coelho

58 Nineteen Eighty Four – George Orwell

59 A Fortunate Life – A.B. Facey

60 The Mists of Avalon – Marion Zimmer Bradley

61 The Notebook -Nicholas Sparks

62 Water For Elephants – Sara Gruen

63 The Five People You Meet In Heaven – Mitch Albom

64 The Host – Stephenie Meyer

65 Dirt Music – Tim Winton

66 Eldest – Christopher Paolini

67 The Shadow of the Wind – Carlos Ruiz Zafon

68 It – Stephen King

69 World Without End – Ken Follett

70 Emma – Jane Austen

71 Temple – Matthew Reilly

72 Little Women – Alcott Louisa May

73 Lean Mean Thirteen – Janet Evanovich

74 Scarecrow – Matthew Reilly

75 American Gods – Neil Gaiman

76 Love In The Time Of Cholera – Gabriel Garcia Marquez

77 P.S, I Love You – Cecelia Ahern

78 All That Remains – Patricia Cornwell

79 The Last Lecture – Randy Pausch

80 Past Secrets – Cathy Kelly

81 The Persimmon Tree – Bryce Courtenay

82 Husband – Dean Koontz

83 Plain Truth – Jodi Picoult

84 Wicked – Gregory Maguire

85 Spot Of Bother – Mark Haddon

86 Always And Forever – Cathy Kelly

87 The Road – Cormac McCarthy

88 Cents & Sensibility – Maggie Alderson

89 Me Talk Pretty One Day – David Sedaris

90 The Shifting Fog – Kate Morton

91 We Need To Talk About Kevin – Lionel Shriver

92 Everyone Worth Knowing – Lauren Weisberger

93 Hour Game – David Baldacci

94 Darkly Dreaming Dexter – Jeff Lindsay

95 The Woods – Harlan Coben

96 Half of a Yellow Sun – Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

97 Middlesex – Jeffrey Eugenides

98 Scar Tissue – Anthony Kiedis

99 Infidel – Ayaan Hirsi Ali

100 Birdsong – Sebastian Faulks

Even on a list of “popular books” I still don’t fare too well.  Is there a list somewhere I might actually cross a few more off – 12 read and 12 to read for this one.  I guess if I was a huge fan of someone like Jodi Piccoult then I might have ben able to cross more off on this list.  Granted it’s a list from “popular vote” … but still. I consult one list and feel “not high brow” enough and consult another and feel “too high brow.”

The upside of this list is A&R now have shelf section in every store dedicated to the 100 books which meant I was able to the first time purchase a copy of The Time Travellers Wife and can’t wait for September when I’ve penciled it in to enjoy during Mercury Retrograde.

How many books have you read on this list or intend to read?