Thought Starters

Warning: List Post: 10 questions disguised as 19 questions to challenge your creativity.

A list post is a lazy bloggers easy out, right?

I am just waiting for the ATOMIC blast.

It might come. It might not.

I really don’t believe that opening comment at all. There’s NOTHING wrong with a list post.

In fact, here are 5 reasons why list posts are dead.

There I go again.

I was simply trying to get your attention.

Now that I have it I better not waste the opportunity.

You know, I had written this post before today and I actually had it ready to go on Tuesday. What happened? Well, somehow I deleted the text in my attempt to add an image to my post. WordPress auto-saved and I panicked. I tried to exit the page and said yes when it asked me if I wanted out.

BIG mistake.

I normally write my blog posts in MS Word first, edit them and then copy and paste them to WordPress and do the final tweaking there. Not this time. I was in a hurry so I thought why not just write it in WordPress?

What’s the harm in that?

Well, karma is a bitch. As they say.

Ah, but I digress.

What’s an Interior Designer doing writing about list posts?

Well, designers make all kinds of lists.

Lists about the types of product they want to use, lists of images they want to use to articulate their design, lists of drawings to demonstrate their design ideas, lists of contractors and consultants that will help deliver the design and lists of errors the contractor has to fix before the job is complete. The punch list, as we so affectionately know it in the industry.

So, with all those lists used during a regular day of any Interior Designer’s life I thought I was as qualified to write a list post as anyone. I can certainly give tips on just about anything and relate the list to the design profession.

That got me thinking about creativity and I came up empty.

The well was dry.

And THAT got me thinking about how we can’t always be ON.

Doesn’t your ability to be creative occasionally need to rest; does it need time to regenerate or maybe some hasta la vista time?

Sure, but what then?

We need to dig deep, right?

We have to find it and the harder we try the harder it is to find. Sometimes you just need to let it go. Do something else. Get away from the cranial gymnastics.

Think about things a little differently.

So, instead of fighting it I simply took my own advice.

I let it go……

I dug out an old post that I wrote on August 8, 2011 back when no one knew who I was. I was 9 weeks into starting my blog and thought a list of fun stuff would be great to publish. I didn’t even know what a list post was back then. The backs of my ears are still pretty damp but I think I have learned a few things since then.

I am repurposing he says in a jaunty tone all proud and…..well…. jaunty.

Here it is.









Well, ok, that’s not really it. No more kidding around.

Now before we start I have to warn you the following list is a commitment. You may simply want to choose one or two of the questions that interest you otherwise you may be here for 40+ minutes and we wouldn’t want that, now would we?

You will laugh and you will cry and maybe you will forget some of the pressing things you have to do for a little while.

Or maybe you won’t. I will likely never know.

At any rate, I hope you enjoy it.

So, here goes:

    1. When was the last time you stopped and took a look around? Is that cliche?
    2. When was the last time you took a deep breathe? It that too obvious?
    3. When was the last time you really listened to someone? Is that condescending?
    4. When was the last time you helped out someone just because it feels good? Is that judgemental?
    5. When was the last time you found something so funny you couldn’t breathe? Is that just silly?
    6. When was the last time you didn’t complain because you know it’s not constructive? Is that sanctimonious?
    7. When was the last time you called a friend out of the blue? Is that necessary?
    8. When was the last time you did something for yourself without thinking? Is that selfish?
    9. When was the last time you read something and really understood it? Is that redundant?
    10. When was the last time?

That’s it. A total of 19 questions. How do you feel?

Over to you:

What do you do when your creativity has left the room? What techniques do you use or what activities help you get back in the flow? What do you do to forget the pressure to always be on?





About this Author: Ralph Dopping (199 Posts)

A quirky sense-o-humour coupled with an indelible sense of stylish sarcasm makes it difficult to take the world too seriously doesn't it? My faves: fun, passion and hard work. I work here everyday:

Soulati | Hybrid PR
Soulati | Hybrid PR

I enjoy list posts because someone has put a ton of work in thinking about that list and who/what goes on it and adding links and sharing a high-quality resource. So, good for you that you dusted off an oldie and made it new again!

Latest blog post: Sex, Drugs, Scandal -- BAM!


This post shone a light on me that was completely disturbing. I haven't done any of those things in such a long time that I don't remember the last instance. What's more, I don't care to do any of them. It's official, I've become a hermit, which sounds terrible, but C'est La Vie.


I think I'll go back to writing.

Latest blog post: Feedblitz Revisited

rdopping moderator

 @Late_Bloomers @StartYourNovel @Craig McBreen @Hajra  @wonderoftech @Erin F. @Joshua Wilner/A Writer Writes @RebeccaTodd @KDillabough Thank you so much for coming by here this week to grace the halls. I enjoyed each and every one of your answers to these questions, even yours @Joshua Wilner/A Writer Writes :-)


I thought it might be appropriate if I offered my own answers back to you as a gift for taking the time to join me. So, here goes:


1. I haven't done this in a long time. No, not in the least.

2. Daily (odd because it goes well with #1). Not obvious but necessary.

3. Thursday when I was walking to the office with a colleague who was telling me about here upcoming trip to Switzeland. I love to listen to people who are excited about their lives. No.

4. It's in my nature to help. It's how I am wired. For some reason I always think of others first. No but I judge myself when I don't. 

5. Last night. snorted my drink laughing. Yes.

6. Yesterday (Friday) at the office. It's never sanctimonious when you consider productivity.

7. Sad. It has been a long time. I have a pal I need to call. Yes, absolutely.

8. Sad, again. I can't remember. Not selfish, necessary.

9. Fortunately, every day. I respond to many proposals and if i don't understand them I am sunk. Hardly redundant assuming we all take the time to fully comprehend what is written.

10. Right now! I am talking to you and I love it.


Cheers folks. Much love and thank you again for your thoughtful responses.


1. Yesterday evening at a friend's vernissage - No, invigorating.

2. Three days ago in music lesson - no, a necessity for playing the flute

3. Yesterday at dinner I listened to three people - no, a pleasure

4. Constantly - no comment

5. Cannot remember but it must have been a bad taste joke shared in silly company - no, great fun

6. Yesterday - no wise

7. Yesterday - yes

8. all the time - no

9. A week ago - no, amazing

10. Yes


1. Yesterday. And no, it's not a cliche. Even in the most familiar surroundings you can find something new if you let your eye wander.


2. Yesterday also. I think.


3. Wednesday! 


4. I ran after an old lady whose coin purse dropped out of her tote bag last week. Some other lady saw the wallet drop to the pavement too, but I was there, so I figured, why the hell not.


5. I can't quite place it in time, but Monty Python may have been involved.


6. I never complain. ;) Well... OK, I do. On occasion. But I do my best to disguise my complaints as jokes.


7. Can't remember, so maybe I'll call someone in about ten minutes.


8. Wednesday!


9. I had a medical appointment and brought Adorno's "The Culture Industry" because I knew I'd be in the sitting room for a while. Reading Adorno feels like my mind is stretching in all sorts of directions and yes, I do believe I understood what he had to say.


10. Wednesday!

Craig McBreen
Craig McBreen

Karma is a bitch, oh and I never write my posts in WordPress, as it can sometimes do mysterious things with your text.


1. Today, looking at some very cool sculptures in the Ballard Neighborhood of Seattle.


2. This morning while stretching my old hamstrings.


3. Just a few minutes ago when my 12-year-old son was telling me about his favorite band.


4. I recently helped someone online. (I took a break from helping old ladies cross the street.)


5. After I wrote my list post I watch this Carlin video: Never, ever, ever get sick of it ::


6. No answer.


7. It has been way too long.


8. I can't remember. Tomorrow I'll treat myself to an early beer.


9. There's a large format HP printer in my office, on the fritz. I tried to read the manual but cursed the damn thing, then cursed the printer, then took 3 deep breaths and calmed myself down. That didn't answer your question.


10. Yesterday.


Oh my... here goes. 


1. Just yesterday. When I got back from college. The term end stress is really getting to me.

2. Long time. Can't remember. I am sighing more. Not too obvious. Just necessary.

3. Today morning, while volunteering. It is an absolute necessity. When you listen, really, really listen, you can change lives.

4. Again, while volunteering. It does feel nice. As for judgmental, depends on why you want to be judging a good act of pure kindness.

5. Last week maybe? It is silly, but it feels very very nice!

6. A few weeks back I decided that no matter how much complain, things don't get better if you don't try to change them. Sanctimonious? Definitely not.

7. A few days back. It is necessary. I found out something that made me feel differently (in a nice way). 

8. Very recently. It isn't selfish if you are over - indulgent. 

9. That happens to me everyday for the past few weeks. I have my term ending, I need to be understanding all those academic books I read! It isn't redundant. It might make you a better person!

10. Now.


Are you going to grade us for the answers?

Latest blog post: I am friends with weird people


Hi Ralph, I can't stand writing in Word first because then I can't see the HTML code. When I write for the Inquirer I actually write in WordPress first so the article will be coded for my editor.


Since you asked...


When was the last time you stopped and took a look around? Every day. I drive my kids nuts because I am constantly pointing out beauty in the world.

Is that cliche? Who really cares if it is? It's a fine question.


When was the last time you took a deep breathe? Yesterday. Deep breathing relaxes me.

It that too obvious? Not to me.


When was the last time you really listened to someone? All the time with my kids. They call me on it when I don't.

Is that condescending? Was it meant to be condescending?


When was the last time you helped out someone just because it feels good? Every day with my kids and husband. It's my job.

Is that judgemental? Not particularly.


When was the last time you found something so funny you couldn’t breathe? Last week. I will burst into hysterical laughter quite often with little provocation.

Is that just silly? I hope so.


When was the last time you didn’t complain because you know it’s not constructive? Daily.

Is that sanctimonious? Certainly.


When was the last time you called a friend out of the blue? Over the summer. She wasn't home and didn't call me back. :-(

Is that necessary? It's purely optional.


When was the last time you did something for yourself without thinking? Never. I'm always thinking. 

Is that selfish? No, but it is dangerous.


When was the last time you read something and really understood it? Five minutes ago. When I research tech, I have to know it cold to write about it

Is that redundant?Nope


When was the last time? Now

Erin F.
Erin F.

When I don't feel creative, I usually push through it. I don't have a choice if I want to accomplish something or have a deadline. I'll also get away for a while, usually with a run or a visit to some of my favorite stores. I also make sure to have activities where I purposefully choose not to be perfectionist. Boot camp, for instance, is my fun outlet. It gives me a break from myself, and I need that.

Joshua Wilner/A Writer Writes
Joshua Wilner/A Writer Writes

List posts usually are for lazy bloggers. They are what many people go to when they haven't got anything in the tank. The distinction between a lazy blogger and the other guy lies in the list. Some are clever, thoughtful and engaging in ways that make you scratch your head.


Love this! I will answer some questions...and I see way more than 19 even! 


I don't stop and look around enough.  My osteopath gave me crap yesterday for always being on the go and leading with my chin. Will try and slow down more. 


Breathing is not at all too obvious. Even with all my yoga training, I am often breathing from my chest unless I an conscious. 


I like to believe I really listen a lot. As in no screens, eye contact, not just waiting for my turn to speak. Not at all condescending- perhaps the best gift you could ever give anyone, as Homer found out when he had his jaw wired shut. 


I Try and help someone out daily, and if opportunities don't present themselves I seek them out. There is usually little to no cost to being thoughtful, and the CBA is incredible!


I LOVE to laugh- I think we all know that! I believe there is nothing better then inducing a spit take or pants-peeing in someone else, or having someone inspire me to do the same. And it's silly, but who doesn't love silly? 


I try and hold my tongue with complaints. If I can frame it in to constructive criticism, ok, but otherwise, what is my negativity contributing to?


I called the same bestie I have had since 2 years old just the other day.  Didn't even get to talk, but a little voice mail saying "you are such an amazing woman and I love you and miss you!" is guaranteed to brighten anyone's day.  Of course she returned the favour with a sweet message of her own.


It is so important to treat yourself right.  If you don't respect yourself, I don't believe you can respect someone else. My yoga guru Saide Nardini encourages a "date with self" at least once a week. 


I read this blog and it really resonated- does that count? 




Now...the other question- what do I do about being "on" all the time? The silence of the yoga studio always helps. The amazing unconditional love that my dogs show me after a long day always calms me. The Wolf Blass Grey Label is pretty tasty.


Thanks for this Ralph! 


You had me at Adele:) Great questions. You might want to check a few of the links ;) Oh, and James Taylor? Classic.


I like to think that I really look around and see: it's the hack photographer in me.

I breathe deeply: often.

I listen. After all, we were given 2 ears and 1 mouth to listen twice as much as we speak. And Adele...ahhhhhhh

I like to think I help out every day

Love to laugh

"Any fool can criticize, condemn and complain: and most do."

I'm a big out-of-the-bluer

Did something for myself yesterday, and it felt good

I read and communicate with the intention of understanding.


I.feel.great! Cheers! Kaarina

rdopping moderator

 @ExtremelyAvg Hey Brian, I really like you honesty.


I remember recently you were talking about getting out to write and meeting someone in a restaurant or coffee shop. You spent time discussing a few things of interest with this new found acquaintance. That knocks off #3.


You wrote about your experiences with Feedblitz and told your community about the issues that they might encounter in a helpful manner. That was personally helpful to me. Without provocation. That kills #4 & #6 and for #9 I simply don't believe you. From the way you write I hardly think you read and don't comprehend. Your comments on the blogs I visit are thoughtful and concise. This tells me you take the time to read the pieces thoroughly.


This post was meant to spark something and it did.


Personally, I really do enjoy your "virtual" company and I don't know many hermits.....:-)

How's the NaNO project coming along?

rdopping moderator

Hey  @Late_Bloomers succinct. I like that immensely.


Vernissage is not a term I am familiar with but I really like it when described as a private viewing of an exhibit. THAT must have been fun. Toronto has a gallery district and if you are ever here I would enjoy showing it to you. There are a large offering of small independent galleries which carry such creative works. You can get lost there for a day at a time.


What made me laugh was your answer to No. 10 It tickles me because I wasn't actually expecting folks to answer that question due to it's undefined nature.


Thanks for coming by Barbara, it's always a pleasure. I had great fun at your place this week discussing your walk though the countryside. Cheers!

rdopping moderator

 @StartYourNovel Hilarious. Wednesday was a productive day for you.


I  am piqued by your reference to The Culture Industry. I just read a brief on the concepts of Horkheimer & Adorno which is interesting. Never heard of this before. Thanks. It might take some reading to fully comprehend the ideas of these two fellows. Identity as commodity, huh? Pretty heady stuff, Mr. Bell. Makes me think about this whole blogging thing a little differently. 


Well, thanks for dropping by. Your time here is appreciated and I am glad that Wednesday and the old lady benefited from your presence. Ha!

rdopping moderator

 @Craig McBreen It takes about 8 seconds to spot one. I feel bad for Dan Quayle.


You know, if HP could figure out how to write a manual then the world would be a better place. The printers in our office are like enigmas wrapped in riddles surrounded by mysteries. Is HP listening? Maybe they need a tweet.


Thanks for taking the time to answer. I wasn't actually expecting people to respond in this way. It's awesome and i thank you for taking the time. Enjoy that beer. Any favourites? 

rdopping moderator

 @Hajra  No grading. Ha. You really are in the thick of academics right now, huh? This was just for you to reflect on how things are for you. I had a ton of fun putting the videos together and it made me think about each question personally too.


A good act of kindness is never a thing to be judged is it? Actually, judging is something that should be left to the courts. Acceptance is the best policy and maybe I should have changed that in the follow up question. Hmmmm......


Funny, a life long friend just called last evening. I need to return that call.


Cheers miss. Good luck with your term and bravo to you on your volunteering.

rdopping moderator

 @wonderoftech Hey Carolyn. Thanks for dropping in. I can always count on you when there is something re: tech involved. I hear you on writing in HTML but it looks so rough. I have this love for font and how font looks which is why i write in word and why I am changing my site. For the pure aesthetics which are very important to me. If I could get Helvetica, I would. It is everywhere.


If you have a second, check this out


It seems that everyone answered that last question in the same way. Interesting.


It's interesting to me that you are always thinking. I wounder what would happen if you threw caution to the wind and just went with spontaneity? What's the worst that could happen?

rdopping moderator

 @Erin F. Yeah, I got that from your guest post at Schechter place. It's the way forward for sure.


Diversion works for me too. looking around and experiencing something different. Something else that works is I look at some very inspiring design books or films. We have a few in our library which give me tears because they are so inspiring. The beauty that comes from some people is at times astounding. That gets me fired up!


You have been busy. Great to see. I can't wait to see where you pop up next. Triberr is a great way to stay connected, huh?


 @Joshua Wilner/A Writer Writes Okay, Mr. Lazy Bones, drop and give me 10. That's right, I want a list post from you for The Wonder of Tech about your 10 Favorite Android Apps. I'll show you lazy. Oh yeah, make sure to give me links for them at Google Play and the Amazon Appstore. Don't forget images!


A list post is 10 times harder than writing about one topic. At least in my world. ;-p

rdopping moderator

 @RebeccaTodd Well, well. You are most welcome. CBA? Canadian Basketball Association? Cost Benefit Analysis? You can see where my mind goes. I am glad that this one resonated. To have an impact like and that you got something of value here really makes my day, actually week.


You know, when I come home at the end of a day and I am ripe from some crap that happened I simply need 5 minutes with my wee Yorkie and all that stuff melts away. The fact that she wiggles her butt no matter what slays me to no end. Nothing wrong with a bottle of wine. Bring it!



rdopping moderator

 @KDillabough Hmmmm......I thought all the links were good. I will go back and retest. Yeah, the Adele gets me every single time. When Janine and I were in FLA in April I was walking down the beach listening to 21 with tears in my eyes. Good thing I had sunglasses on. I can't explain it.


It makes me happy to hear when people feel like they are at the top of their game. It's a warm feeling. Thanks for gracing these halls today. Cheers to you!


 @rdopping Oops, vernissage means celebratory opening of something, in this case the very public opening of an art exhibition, hence many people. And YES, I would enjoy that very much, a private tour of the gallery district in Toronto, I will take you up on this one, thanks a ton!


When I first read list post I was inwardly groaning, oh no, not again. And then you tease us along into the spider web - brilliant.


Ralph, I really enjoyed you walking along me on this countryside walk, a respite from an otherwise rather bleak life. And btw: recipes in the making! Thanks!


@Joshua Wilner/A Writer Writes @wonderoftech Excellent point. I tend not to read blogs like that so I forget that there are those for whom the medium is a tool for manipulation. I find my time is better sent perusing quality blogs such as yours and this one. At quality sites a list post can be a treasure trove of useful information.

rdopping moderator

@Joshua Wilner/A Writer Writes @wonderoftech 100%

rdopping moderator

 @KDillabough Links are fixed. Very tired last night and for some reason the edits didn't save. Yeah, that darn Adele. Have a great rest of your day!