Small, good choices add up when you’re trying to accomplish a goal. I find in fact that they are the only way I ever accomplish anything. It helps to be a little single-minded. When my goal was to get ready for Christmas, I had to write a list. I had to go shopping. I had to stock up on wrapping paper and bows. When my goal is to go to the gym, I need to put on my gym clothes, even if I’m not sure when I’ll get there. If I want to do laundry, it helps to be in the laundry room.
Same with my writing goals — the primary one being, right now, to finish the novel rewrite. Being in my writing cabin is a good first step. But being in my cabin isn’t enough. I can’t check my email, pick up a book, write aimlessly in a journal, write a blog post. I have to actually have the novel on my lap. I have to have my eyes on the words. It helps to read aloud. It helps to have a pen in my hand.
Lately, it hasn’t been going so well. I haven’t been making those small, good choices. I haven’t been single-minded. But I keep showing up, and I keep picking up the notebook. I’m having dinner with a friend tonight who just finished rereading the first fifty pages. That’s a good choice. It will help to have some conversation around what she noticed. She’s a screenwriter and she helps me to see the scenes in a way I don’t quite see them on my own. It will help, tonight, to not watch four hours of Veronica Mars before bedtime. It will help to go to bed early. It will help to get up early.
“I’d love to lose 20 pounds,” one of my daughters said to me today. This was just after eating licorice rope and a candy bar. To lose weight, you have to make small, good choices. To write a novel, or a short story, or a poem, small good choices are the only path.