Productivity In Fantasyville
You probably read the title of this post and did a double take. Maybe you thought, productivity in Fantasyville? Why is she trying to mix productivity and writing Fantasy? Those topics don’t go together.
And, in a way, you’re right. Writing Fantasy and productivity do not match. But productivity is not a new thing, not a 21st-century invention. People have been trying to store useful information a variety of ways for centuries. Trying to get more done. And even though your reader has no clue, this is something your Elves and Orcs may have in common with humans.
This post is about stories where you choose to use this little tidbit of information. Either in a more integral way or to just flavor the characters and the world.
Why Even Mention Productivity Methods In Your Story?
I’ve got one word for you. Characterization.
It isn’t likely your character will save the world with their planner. It would be great if they did or even just saved their town. Someone may have to write that story. I’d read it for sure. But having a planner, liking to-do lists etc. can be a great way of signaling a character likes control, needs more control in their life, or thrives on routine.
The To-Do List
Lists are really common throughout history. You can pick a time and a place and, if they used writing, they made use of lists. Commonly to keep an inventory of something. This means lists and more accurately the to-do list is likely to be the most common form of physical planning within the universe of your Fantasy story.
I’m particularly fond of the Ivy Lee Method. It breaks down to the following steps:
- Sit down the night before and write a list of six tasks you want to complete the next day.
- Order them from most important or urgent (1) to least urgent but still important (6).
- Complete each task in order before starting the next one.
- Migrate any remaining tasks to the next day and repeat 1-3.
What this method does for living, flesh and blood people and what it can do for your characters is force them to prioritize. To look at what is and isn’t important for them to get done each day. Which can act as a great balance when you then thrust them headlong into an adventure, helping to develop other priorities instead of just lists and routines. Like friendship, non-arrogant pride, caring etc.
Productivity In Fantasyville
You have your productivity method and plan to use it to characterize your world and your characters. What does using a productivity method as a form of characterization look like? Below is a brief example using the Ivy Lee Method in an Urban Fantasy setting:
Rose frowned at the list in front of her. The day hadn’t seemed so hectic. How had she only gotten three out of six items on her daily list completed?
She adjusted her collar, her fingers brushing a love bite. Her Earth-brown face grew hot, black mamba hair wriggling beneath her kerchief. Oh. Yeah. That’s how. She cleared her throat and set about making tomorrow’s to-do list. If she didn’t make plans for lunch tomorrow? Well, her wife would have to understand.
From this little snippet, we can deduce several things. Rose doesn’t like when she doesn’t complete her to-do list for the day. Rose is married and a romantic interlude with her wife stopped her from completing her daily to-do list. And Rose is so invested in getting her list done that she is willing to sacrifice a lunch with her wife, giving herself no reason to not complete the next day’s list.
Imagine for a moment that her list was taken away. Perhaps a dead body was left on her doorstep? What do you think Rose’s reaction to something she couldn’t tackle with a list would be? What about the love story between her and her wife? Love is impossible to manage by lists and timetables, so that may have been an area where she was caught off guard. The universe is endless, for Rose and for your own productivity-loving characters.