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Time to embrace the new year

4th January 2021 |

For many people, the past nine months have been a challenge. Research has suggested women have taken on the brunt of childcare, often working from home and dealing with elderly relatives, or in low paid service-related work that offers little security. Is it no wonder that a recent article in Mylsexia identified women writers as struggling even more? Yes, if you are unable to afford to write full time, balancing all the aspects of your life has always been an issue.

Recently I wrote about how the brain can easily become overloaded. But rather than say ‘I can’t find time to write’ and feeling guilty or even writing and still feeling guilty, what would happen if we set our expectations very low? Grabbing an hour to sit and write is luxury for many people. You can get a lot done in an hour. But what if that hour was reduced to ten minutes? Or even a set limit of words, say fifty?

Fifty words, six days a week for six months…you do the maths. We’re on our way to a long, short story, a novella or the first chapters of a novel.

What would be preferable? Nothing and feeling bad or doing a little and feeling OK. It reminds me of the famous marshmallow test. It originated in the middle years of the last century and has been subject to much scrutiny and criticism. At the time it was thought that those who could delay eating their marshmallow and were subsequently rewarded with a second did better in life outcomes later. So here is the question…would you prefer to write fifty words, six days a week or wait until you could spend a longer time (which might never happen)?

I think I’d go for small gains every day, rather than wait for a possible glut of opportunity.

It was Desmond Tutu who wrote, “There is only one way to eat an elephant: a bite at a time.” What he meant was that everything in life that seems daunting, overwhelming, and even impossible can be accomplished gradually by taking on a little at a time.

It reminds me of the Lao Tzu quote “The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step.” In fact he could have added that any journey is made up of lots of single steps. The important thing is to take the first one, however small it might be.

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