Steady Improvement (A Love Letter)

So here I am in Ceret. (If you missed the story on this, click here to read all about it.) And I’m not going to lie, it is glorious. The temperatures are just starting to warm into the sixties, flowers are blooming, and the sky is a deep, deep blue against the worn stone of the old buildings.

The days have been going pretty much like this: in the mornings we write; in the afternoons we wander around town or perhaps take a mini-field trip. Then we return home and write some more before the most one of the most important parts of the day, you guessed it, Happy Hour.

Because the wine here is amazing (not to mention the bread, cheese, pate and sausage). Formerly known as plonk, the wines of the Languedoc region have improved mightily recently. They are wonderful—and cheap.

So every night while we drink sip wine, I knit. I’m working on the perfect travel project. It’s a shawl that is made from one multi-colored ball of yarn. (Only one ball to tote along! However, I must admit I brought along another project, just in case I finished this one.)  I increase two stitches, one at each end, every other row. Once every 10 rows, there’s a more complicated thing going on, with a lot of increases happening all the way across. I started with just a few stitches, like three, and by the time I finish, there will be nearly 300.

Since I’ve been knitting and chatting every night, I’ve not paid all that much attention to my progress and the other night when I picked up my needles, I was amazed at how many stitches now covered it.  I thought, steady increase. It’s amazing how it adds up.

One of my Mom’s favorite sayings was, step by step we travel far. Same idea, really. In productivity circles the idea of making tiny changes incrementally is called Kaizen. And it occurred to me that this is also applicable to writing:

  • It starts with words, of course. One word after another after another is power. (That sounded familiar, so I looked it up. Margaret Atwood said it. We would all do well to remember it.)
  • The pages add up as you write them. Even one page a day is 30 pages by the end of a month.
  • Your skills amp up. When first you begin writing, the words come out clunky and awkward. But slowly, the vision you have in your head gets put on the page.
  • Your fear of facing the page lessens. Familiarity with the process makes everything easier.
  • That feeling that it will all come to nothing dissipates. Because, increasing steadily, you realized that the simple act of writing regularly is enough in and of itself.

So, keep up the good work, even if the work is going, as my mother also used to say, slowly, slowly. One day you will add up those words and be astonished with how many there are!

Follow me along my French retreat on Instagram. And do join the Facebook group for more writing talk!

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