Thursday, July 6, 2017

One Small Thing

Posted by: Joely Sue Burkhart
I've blogged several times this year about being stuck or blocked or generally struggling to make headway, so to finally be able to say "I'm back" in that creepy Carrie Anne voice from Poltergeist makes me feel pretty darned good.

Can I say that with any conviction that I won't jinx myself? YES.

In May/June I already wrote more than I did in 2016. I'm feeling creative again. After finishing one book (that has been on my list for probably three years or more), I immediately cranked out a proposal that I'd promised in December.  *cringe*  Yeah. I hate being late on anything, especially when I've made the commitment. I also have an entirely new idea churning.

So what turned everything around?  One small thing.

It could be anything, if you're struggling too. It doesn't even have to be writing, but life in general if you're feeling stuck. For me, I think it all started with just doing meditation this year. That's one small thing I could do for myself.  It only takes 10-15 minutes. I try to do it first thing in the morning (because otherwise, I get busy and forget). That's time I can focus, simply be, and let my mind rest.

That alone didn't turn my word counts around, but it helped me personally find a better mental space.

The one small thing that has really helped my writing lately:  changing my set up.

Over a year ago, I switched to an all-in-one large screen monitor.  I thought it would be easier on my eyes than the smaller 15" laptop screen. I also switched to a (wired) mechanical keyboard, thinking it would be easier on my hands.  Both were true.

Both also changed how and where I could write, because I was no longer mobile.  It was too hard to drag the large screen around.  In fact, a month or two after I bought it, I actually busted the screen moving it from my office to the living room and had to have it repaired. It just toppled over as I set it down on the floor and shattered.

Sitting in my easy chair became a nightmare.  The all-in-one had a stand so it wouldn't sit on my lap comfortably any longer. I bought a laptop desk, but it was super easy for the screen to fall over (see how I'd already damaged it once). The dog likes to lay on my legs, and she would knock it over jumping up on me. The stupid cords were always in my way and I had to make two trips to carry everything with me.

It was easier to leave the big screen in my office, rather than deal with the headache and risk of damaging it again.  I couldn't take the big screen in the car, so I lost writing time there.

My productivity plummeted.

And it's not like I can just go buy a new computer, you know? So what do I do?

Luckily, my husband received two iPads from work that had been phased out last month, and that one little bitty screen has been a lifesaver.  Combined with a Bluetooth wireless keyboard, it's small, compact, super portable, light -- and with Scrivener, my drafting software -- a literal miracle.  I can write while the family is watching TV. I can write in the car.  I can write while I watch baseball games. I don't have to banish myself to my office.

There are still things I prefer to do on the larger screen, but having that second option has been a game changer the last few weeks.  I had no idea that one small thing could make such a difference!

So if you're struggling with your environment or habit or life in general, see if there's one small thing you can do to improve it. Even 10 mins of meditation may make all the difference and give you the mental space you need.


  1. Good post, Joely! This has certainly been a year for creativity being kicked in the teeth all over the place, so any little thing folks can try is lovely.

    1. It just didn't dawn on me that my set up was part of my problem - until I fixed it. Duh!


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