My mom had a few little sayings that she grew fond of dishing out whenever the opportunity presented itself. For instance, she used to say, “You don’t have to tell everything you know,” whenever one of us was close to crossing the boundary of sharing too much information. Another one she liked was “A little work never killed anybody.”
And for an entire year after watching The Emperor’s New Groove, she took up the habit of randomly seasoning her conversations with the phrase “Boom baby!” That was a Dark Time for the Berg household.
But the one I think has stuck with me most of all was this: “You can do a lot of dishes in five minutes.” It was her way of saying, “Don’t worry if you don’t have a lot of time, just get done what you can. You might surprise yourself.”
I think this is great advice for writers too. Often times, I set myself some big writing goal, and then things happen in my day that make it impossible to fulfill that goal. And how do I react? I don’t write at all.
But mom was right. And just like you can get a lot of dishes done in five minutes, you can also get a respectable amount of writing done in fifteen. I know it can be discouraging when you can’t quite find the time in your day to do all the writing you’d really like to. Believe me I face it all the time. I have a full time job, and responsibilities at home, and God only knows how much more I’ll have to deal with once I have kids. But writing doesn’t have to be a monumental endevour every time you do it. Sure it’s nice to be able to carve out an hour to focus on nothing but writing, but life doesn’t always work out that way. Sometimes its enough to give yourself just a few minutes to pound out a few hundred words. Its always better than thinking, “Well, I don’t have that much time so I guess, I’ll just blow off my writing for today.”
We’ve all got little bits of time in our lives that go to waste simply because we think they don’t matter. But maybe we need to reconsider. Maybe those little bits of time could be the most valuable parts of our day. It may not seem like much, but never underestimate the power of those in-between moments. If we use them, we might get more accomplished than we could have dreamed, not all at once, but little by little. Because writing is a journey we take one step at a time.