This trick works when I’ve got a full draft that I need to fix, but one that doesn’t need major revisions for argument. I do a full read-through of the chapter/article, and as I go, I do minor editing and make notes of all the things that need fixing. Nothing tricky there. But as I’m making notes, I flip over the draft and write the page number and task on the back of the last page. Ta da! I’ve got my new task list. Some tasks are wonderfully easy (say, “add citation page #,” or “eliminate repetition”). Some are not so bad but take a little thought (like, “add 1 sentence to connect to thesis”). Some are for when I’ve got a chunk of time and am feeling energetic (“add a paragraph on ekphrasis,” or “finish conclusion para.”). Sometimes I type up the list and clip it to the back of the draft; sometimes I just use the handwritten version. On occasion, it ends up on my whiteboard.
I love having a finite list of tasks that I can pick and choose from, all of which move my writing forward. If I’m needing momentum, I can start with some easy tasks and cross of a bunch in one sitting. If I have some energy and time, I can dive into the bigger tasks. Somehow it makes the next steps of the project seem more manageable.
Do you have a similar step in your writing process?