Sometimes the little things turn out to be the big things. We know this about relationships. That remark on the first date. The joke made about the ex. The comment about a former boss. Later, we look back and sigh; we know that we knew. The little things were all there.
I have been writing for many years. Fiction, nonfiction, columns, essays and now “Out of the Woods” my second book. I did all this writing with a busy day job, with a sad divorce, with a happy new marriage, several step kids and even cancer—his, mine and ours. And I kept on writing.
Recently as “Out of the Woods” was launched, I have been asked, “How did you do this with your job and travel and school and taking care of John? And even I had to think about it. How did I do all that? It turns out that I did it in little bits and baby steps and by writing “any amount” and anytime.
I had to learn some tricks. Just the way that over years of recovery most of us learn some tricks. My favorite writing tool (and recovery tool) came from a yoga teacher in Baltimore. When I would try a pose she would gently coax, “Can you stretch any amount more?” or “Can you hold it any amount longer?” Any amount. Just a tad longer, higher, deeper, more. No unreachable promises like: “I will write two hours each day.” Nope—just “any amount”. It turns out that writing is kind of like yoga, and that is kind of like recovery and I could write “any amount” every day –one day at a time–and it added up.
Other little things that made it possible to write “Out of the Woods”: Index cards. I take notes on index cards all the time. At work, at church, in the store, yes even in work meetings. Index cards look so official no one seems to notice.
For a long time I tried to only write at my desk, or only on retreat or only… Well, forget only. Writers write. I can write anywhere. It may not be brilliant but I capture ideas and write them down. Later, at my desk, I can make them prettier. Yeah, pretty does matter.
It turns out that writing is a lot like 12-step recovery and writing “Out of the Woods” was a true practice of so many recovery habits and beliefs. I learned to do it one day at a time, in tiny bites, and I do it everywhere, in all of my life.