My List of Perfect Things


Serves: One or Many

Cook Time: 7 minutes, 4 seconds

Perfect for

  • Encouraging writing confidence.

  • Inspiring a great conversation around a table (Thanksgiving comes to mind!)

  • Creating a list that makes your heart sing.

  • For teachers, making a bulletin board that fills your classroom with happiness.



  • Passage from Marisa de dos Santos’s book, Love Walked In.

If you haven’t seen The Philadelphia Story, stop what you are doing, rent it, and watch it. It’s probably overstating the point to say that until you watch it, you will have been living a partial and colorless life. However, it is definitely on the list of perfect things. You know what I mean, the list that includes the starry sky over the desert, grilled cheese sandwiches, The Great Gatsby, the Chrysler building, Ella Fitzgerald singing “It Don’t Mean a Thing (If You Ain’t Got That Swing),” white peonies, and those little sketches of hands by Leonardo da Vinci.
— Marisa de los Santos, Love Walked In

Writing Prep

  1. Read the passage and see what author, Marisa de los Santos, puts on her list of perfect things.


Time to Get Cooking

  1. Get a piece of paper.

  2. Write this at the top:

If you haven’t seen* __________(movie), stop what you are doing, and watch it. It’s probably overstating the point to say that until you watch it, you will have been living a partial and colorless life. However, it is definitely on the list of perfect things.

You know what I mean, the list that includes…

*NOTE: You could also begin with If you haven’t read, heard, tasted, visited…etc.

3. Now, write your list, connecting all the items with commas. You can write under the influence of Marisa de los Santos and use her categories (movie, memory from nature, food, book, object, performer and/or song, flower, and piece of art), or come up with your own. For this piece, I think it’s fun to let your mind run free and let one idea inspire another.

4. Also, you don’t have to use her exact wording in the beginning. Feel free to do your own thing, but get to the core of what you think is perfect.

5. Use the Quick Write Method.

  • Quick Write means: Write for 7 minutes, 4 seconds without stopping or talking. (Studies show that 7 minutes, 4 seconds is the perfect amount of time for this piece.) 

  • Quick Writes grow writing love because:

    a. Writing fast for a short period of time helps you outrun the inner voice that says, “You can’t write.  You are bad at this!” 

    b. Tell yourself, “I don’t have time to listen to that critical voice.  I’m gonna go for it!”

  • Keep pen/pencil/keyboard moving the entire time.

  • If you get stuck, write I’m stuck I’m stuck I’m stuck until you aren’t anymore.  Cross that part out later.

  • Don’t worry about spelling.

Share Your Words

1. When you are done, read your piece aloud – to a real live human, your dog, or your bathroom mirror.  It’s essential to hear your writing aloud.  You’ll hear what works. You’ll hear what doesn’t work. 

2. If you do read this to a real live human, ask them to tell you a word, phrase, or sentence that stands out to them (this is called SAYBACK ).  Don’t ask for or receive advice about revision or editing.  Just absorb what someone likes about your writing and say, “Thank you very much.”

3.  Select one line you like the best – or one that moves you the most - or one that stands out the most.  I call these golden lines. It’s good to notice what you are already doing well as a writer.  Often, if you get response from a human, your golden lines might be the same! That’s fun and tells you a lot about what readers think is good writing. 



  • If you’re a teacher, have each kid write one of their perfect things on a nice piece of paper and slap it up on that good ole bulletin board. If you want to make it look super fab and colorful, check out this quick way to display golden lines.

  • If you’re a teacher, this makes a touching holiday poetry reading for classroom holiday programs.

    • Step 1. Type up all the golden lines from your class. This means there will be one per student and it’s like you’re making one giant list.

    • Step 2. Create an opening line (some modification of Marisa de los Santos’s line that fits your classroom culture).

    • Step 3. Create a closing line.

    • Step 4. Figure out who will read what and when.

    • Step 5. Then, have each child read one of the items on his/her list. It becomes a collaborative poem created by your entire class. Every parent will cry sweet tears and you won’t have pulled your hair out creating the perfect moment. It’s a win win.

  • If you’re a human celebrating holidays when lots of folks gather around your table, this piece is a great conversation starter. No writing needed - just start talking about what’s perfect in this world. It’s a conversation that will please any palette even if the turkey is dry and the stuffing isn’t just like Grandma used to make.


For me, a list of perfect things includes all of you sharing your lists of perfect things with your beloveds this Thanksgiving holiday. I’m so grateful you read the words I write on this little old blog. Blessings to you all!


Always writing,


P.S. I wrote a blog post about why our brains love lists. I’m still giddy thinking about it.