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Wednesday, January 11, 2006

The power of the 250

by Charity Tahmaseb

This time of year, it’s easy to look back at all we didn’t do the previous year and make grand plans for the one just begun. Finish that book, lose that weight, paint the house. Sometimes it’s good to stop to think on the things we did accomplish during the previous year.

I discovered that for me, the single most effective thing I did during 2005 was also so simple, so tiny, it almost seems insignificant. From September to December, I made it my goal to write 250 words per day, taking to heart Anne Lamott’s advice in Bird by Bird:

It reminds me that all I have to do is to write down as much as I can see through a one-inch picture frame. This is all I have to bite off for the time being.

I took that one simple lesson of writing (and life) and really put it into practice. Dashing off 250 words is easy. I write three pages longhand each morning. I have not one, but two electronic journals. So I do write. Sometimes a lot. But never, I felt, enough, on my novel. But by the end of December, I’d added 60,000 words to my work in progress (I realize for some of you, 60,000 words is a novel, but I’m writing a big, fat book--I need words, lots of them).

I also did something else. I made this activity my own by giving it a new name. While I adore Anne Lamott’s “one-inch picture frame,” the notion isn’t mine. Somehow I ended up calling it “writing the 250” and it stuck--both the name and the practice.

For 2006, look at all you want to do and find one small, nearly insignificant, thing you can do, and then name it. Make it your own. Give it power to grow.

4 Comments:

At 9:46 PM, Blogger Jennie Lucas said...

I love this, Charity! I really need some "easy" goal to get myself back into writing again. 250 words, that's only about a manuscript page. That doesn't seem so hard???

The trouble is when I tell myself I need to write 6 pages a day ... and the thought of that stresses me out so much that I end up blowing it off and watching a movie instead. Smaller goals will add up if I can just do them faithfully. Stupid writing tricks! Thanks for a great way to put it into perspective!

 
At 4:15 PM, Blogger Kiki, aka Esri said...

Excellent advice, Charity! Thanks!

 
At 7:42 AM, Anonymous Jen said...

As you know, it's working... at least since I started it. I'm so grateful to you! I think you should write a "How to Write for People who Love to Write" book... Ack, that's not quite what I mean. I'll explain in a different forum. I think your idea is beyond awesome. I feel liberated.

 
At 6:12 PM, Blogger Trish Milburn said...

Great advice, Charity. The wonder of this is that just the starting is the hard part. Often, you'll be flying by 250 words before you realize it.

 

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