Mini-Bucket Lists

A few days ago, the notebook where I jot down random ideas broke.  Or, to be more precise, the cover tore in half, the binding snapped, and it more or less exploded paper all over the inside of my bag.  Not great for my organization, but it did help me trip across a list I hadn’t even remembered writing until I saw it. 

It was about eighteen months ago when I scribbled the list.  I was working a day job for a couple months to pick up some extra cash, but the day-to-day grind was getting to me so during a break one day I made a list of experiences I wanted to have.  A bucket list – but not on quite such a grandiose scale.

Instead of sky diving and climbing Machu Picchu (which are both on my actual bucket list), these were things that I wanted to experience which felt a little more manageable.  Going to see Hamilton (which I did!) and going to see a taping of my favorite NPR news quiz, Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me (which I have tickets for next month!).  There are some other items on the list – catching a spring training game for my favorite baseball team (missed that this year) or making a romance lover’s pilgrimage to The Ripped Bodice bookstore in LA (which I haven’t managed yet) – but I’ve gotten a start.

Lists have always motivated me, but sometimes the big things (like Machu Picchu) can feel insurmountable until we build up steam with smaller achievements.  Knocking items off my little mini bucket list makes me feel like I am more likely to climb Machu Picchu yet.  

Of course I immediately started thinking of character ramifications.  What would be on my hero or heroine’s bucket list and mini bucket list?  Do they use small relationship milestones to build up to the major relationship milestones the same way I would use my mini-bucket list to build up to the big one?  How can I apply this to my craft?

But also, where else can we apply this in our lives?  Finding The One could be a major bucket list item, but maybe the best way to build up momentum for that is to start with a few dates.  What else could we need a running start at?  Writing a new book?  A new series?  How can we game ourselves into success?

I don’t have the answers to those questions, but I love thinking of them.  And maybe some of the answers can be found in a few little lists.  Do you have a bucket list – mini or otherwise?  What would be on your characters’ bucket lists?

14 responses to “Mini-Bucket Lists”

  1. I need to make one!

  2. Heather McCollum says:

    Great post, Vivi!
    I need to make a bucket list. Right now I only have a bucket item – to ride through the snow on a horse drawn sleigh with bells on it. I really want to do that before I die.

    If I think about it, I do have other things I want to do – mostly big things. I love the idea of a mini-bucket lists. I kind of have that for my writing career – quarterly goals. But I think I need some for my non-writing life too.

    Let’s see:
    Do floating yoga
    Train ride across Canada (that’s sort of big)
    Do baby goat yoga (did that last fall!)
    Take a croissant and bread baking class
    Plant a cherry tree in my backyard
    Tour a rose garden
    Paint the back of my laundry nook a funky color

    Thanks, Vivi! I’m going to write these and more down : ) Heather

    • I love your list, Heather. Good luck knocking off those items! There’s actually a place near my house that does horse-drawn sleigh rides in the winter. We took my Hawaii family when they came up for Christmas and it was so fun – but also SO COLD! I highly recommend doing it on a day when the temperature is above -5 degrees Fahrenheit! 😀

  3. Tamara Hogan says:

    –> What would be on your characters’ bucket lists?

    What an excellent character development exercise, Vivi! I’m going to try this.

    One thing on my own bucket list? Travel to Europe. So far, my only European stops have been at the Frankfurt airport, en route to India. 🙂

  4. Elizabeth Langston says:

    My bucket list: visit Wyoming, take French cooking lessons, ride the trans-Canadian railway, develop a green thumb.

    Bucket list for a character in my work-in-progress (at least at the beginning of the book):Meet first lady Jackie Kennedy

  5. Now you have me thinking, Vivi!

  6. Great post, Vivi. I love the idea of writing characters’ bucket list. I’m going to try that while I tick off one of my bucket list items. Yup. I’m heading to Ireland for R&R and a ton of fun soon.

    Thanks for the idea. WINK

  7. Addison Fox says:

    This is a fantastic post, Vivi!!! I love the personal aspect and I also love it as a writing prompt!!!

    Happy Bucket-ing!! 🙂


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