It's a Sticky Situation

Sunday, February 10, 2008
by LuAnn Womach

Hi. My name is LuAnn. And I have a problem.

No matter how hard I try, I just can’t break the cycle.

No matter how hard I try, I can’t stop the compulsion.

No matter how hard I try, I can not get my mind to settle down and allow my brain waves to flow in a somewhat gentle pattern.

Thanks to my never-resting, writing-idea generating brain, I’ve become a Post-It note addict. Across the top of my desk, about 50 adhesive notes of various shapes and sizes stick to the surface. Each note is filled with five or six possible writing ideas.

And the madness doesn’t stop there. On the wall above my desk, Post-Its adorn a bulletin board, offering proof of my brainstorming sessions.

And on my nightstand, a jumbo pack of Post-Its for when the writing muse rouses me from slumber at 3:16 A.M., which happens on a fairly regular basis!

And stuck inside pages of books I’ve read rest Post-Its, either acting as a quasi-bookmark or a source for noting valuable quotes I want to re-read and contemplate again and again.

In my office, I even have a storage bin full of the square-shaped papers, each piece at my disposal for creating a masterpiece or spiderwebbing a map of ideas. Plus, I have all shapes, sizes, and colors: a rectangular pad with a flashy motto and pic saying ‘I teach because Hollywood hasn’t called yet!’ (left over from my former classroom days), a bundle of basic yellow notes, a cat-shaped pile that resembles Garfield. But my favorite Post-Its are the 2 x 1 1/2 inch mini notes in bright neon colors. I prefer the hot pink. But honestly, any Post-It fills my obsessive-compulsive desire to create.

I thought I could get this Post-It fetish under control, but it kept growing and growing until it spun so far out of control and required an intervention.

OK, so the intervention took the form of my significant other, Scott, who stood in my office doorway and told me that I needed to deal with the mess of organized chaos that was overtaking my room. Instead, I informed him that I just needed a bigger office.

“You can’t stop the creative madness in my mind,” I screeched back at him.

By now, I knew I had to do something, anything, to get things under control and take back the writing life that I so richly enjoy.

I needed a plan, and I needed it quick, before you-know-who returned to the office door and threatened to clean-up my writing dominion.

I could gather all the Post-Its and toss them in the trash or the top file cabinet drawer. Or better yet, I could try to re-assemble them and file them away for later use. But that plan was not hot.

I could transfer the golden gems of creativity to my computer, thus eliminating the Post-Its. That plan was too cold and calculating. There’s just something about the feel of the paper underneath the hand.

Then I devised a plan that was just right. I decided what I need to do is take one sheet a day and really brainstorm article idea possibilities. My favorite idea generator is the Topic Worksheet from Jenna Glatzer’s book Make a Real Living as a Freelance Writer: How to Win Top Writing Assignments. The worksheet lets me break a topic down into 15 different story possibilities. After generating ideas, I throw away the Post-It.

Ok, I hear you out there saying, but you really haven’t eliminated any paper. True, I haven’t. I graduated from a 2 x 1 ½ inch sticky note to an 8 ½ x 11 sheet of paper, but let’s be honest about it: placing a sheet of paper inside a file folder is much easier than having a folder filled with notes attached to another sheet in a manner of disarray.

But I can also be honest and say the process of transfer (I like educational jargon) stimulates my brain to be productive and take a closer look at topics I might not have considered if it hadn’t originated on a single Post-It note.

I still have trouble when shopping in Office Max; I browse through all the different styles of Post-Its and buy at least one new stack each visit. Paper – and anything that has to do with the writing process – is one addiction I will not break!


Marcia Peterson said...

If post it notes work for you, then embrace the madness! :)

Anonymous said...

Post it's are just one of the greatest inventions ever. Enjoy! And I agree with you about the feel of paper & pen in hand...not the same typing it out.

Angela Mackintosh said...

Oh LuAnn... I share the madness. I'm staring at the post-it notes around my office and I'm picturing a spiffy evening ensemble by sticking them all together. I'll be the toast of the town! ;-)

Anonymous said...

wow, these seems great. i wish i could feel them, touch them .. You are creative human being and like your paper folder creation.

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