Saturday, February 23, 2008

Day 23: Little by little

If at first you don't succeed, lower your expectations!

This modern take on an old proverb seems like a cop-out at first glance, but it contains a germ of truth.

Sometimes we "fail" simply because we set unrealistic goals for how much we're going to accomplish (write two chapters a day) or how fast we're going to get it done (lose 40 pounds this month).

I don't know if my Febo goals were unrealistic or not. But I do know that a lot of stuff came up this month that I wasn't expecting. Sickness. House guests. Family stuff. And exactly why did I invite all those people to dinner next week? :~)

So I've decided that it's better to "lower my expectations" than to quit.

I am reminded of another proverb, this one from the book of Proverbs in the Bible:

Dishonest money dwindles away, but he who gathers money little by little makes it grow. --Prov. 13:11

The writer of this passage was talking about acquiring wealth, but it applies nicely to writing a book too. Brick by brick. Page by page. Day by day. With patience and persistence, little by little adds up to a lot.

There are some expectations I refuse to lower. I don't want to compromise on quality. I don't want to compromise on completing the writing project I'm working on. It may take a little longer than I had hoped, but I'm going to reach the finish line--little by little.

FEBO was never really about seeing how many words we can generate in one marathon month. It's about forming new writing habits for a lifetime.

In the immortal words of Peaches:

I think maybe there's only one rule when it comes to writing--DON'T QUIT!


PattyK said...

PattyK, posting for NancyE:

Only one more week of February left! But I am very happy today because I have finished writing what I consider the "beginning" of my memoir--almost 3,000 words. I don't know whether I will end up calling this Introduction or Preface or Chapter 1, but it's the beginning. I have definitely decided that I will propose it as a reading for the discussion group I referred to previously. (They don't know what they're in for.) I have also decided that at the St. Davids Christian Writers Conference this June (, I will apply to take a tutorial with a woman who is a professional editor and has written (but not yet published) her own spiritual memoir.

Perhaps I should say something about myself for those in the blog who don't know me. I am a retired English professor who taught creative writing, and I am 73 years old. If I make it to my 74th birthday, and I thoroughly intend to, I will have lived one month longer than my mother did. So you see why I am into writing a memoir--as opposed to doing something like querying, writing, and marketing articles. (Although--memoir writing isn't just for the old anymore, since "memoir" isn't the same as autobiography. You can do it anytime. (See Tristine Rainer's book, Your Life as Story.)

I am also doing "daily Lenten writing" as a separate practice. The book I am using is not really a Lenten guide; it's just something that inspires me with topics, and I'm usually surprised by what grabs me to write about on any given day. (E.g., the apartment mascot cat, crows, a potted plant high on a shelf in my living room . . . .).

Continued good luck and happy writing to everyone,


Donna Alice said...

Any reason we can't continue FEBO or morph into MARMO next month? :)

I think I have been able to complete quite a few of my original goals this month. Even a few that I didn't expect. I ended up having the opportunity to enter the Genesis Contest so have focuse the last few weeks on getting my 15 pages ready for that.

My main FEBO goal, to finish my sequel to the Jenny book is not complete yet. I did quite a lot of work on it, but it's still far from finished.

Yet, as Patty says--little by little. Now that I've gotten all these contests out of the way, it's back to editing the book.