This month I would like to talk about The Slight Edge a book written by Jeff Olson with John David Mann. It is not written with writers in mind, but the heart of it easily applies to the writing process which is pretty exciting.
To save us both time, and the blog site space, I’m going to briefly explain what Olson means by “the slight edge” and then share my top three “take-aways” that have inspired me to continue pursuing the writing dreams I believe God has placed in my heart.
The slight edge in a nutshell is: “simple productive actions, repeatedly consistently over time.”
If you are a writer, you can already see where this is going, can’t you? How many times have you been told/read/heard that if you really are a writer you have to “write every day”? I have lost count.
And it’s not that I disagree but if, like me, you have to work full-time, have three kids, and your husband has health issues that limit how much he can help out around the house – where do you find the time?
This is why I found Olson’s book exciting and inspiring because this is what he helps you figure out. Let me be clear, this is not a book about time management. What Olson does do is give a compelling argument for why you need to pursue your goals no matter what obstacles are in the way, and he does it in a very down-to-earth, encouraging way.
So my three take-aways:
- The things we know we need to do are easy to do, and easy not to do.
- Slow and steady wins the race (but mostly steady).
- To close the gap between “I really should do ______” to doing it, is to be present in the moment.
I found the following paragraph encouraging, I hope you do too:
“…you already know how to do everything it takes to make you an outrageous success. That’s how you’ve survived up to this point. And if you can survive, then you can succeed. You don’t need to do some brilliant, impossible thing. You don’t need to learn some insanely difficult skills, or have some genius-level brainstorm of an innovative idea. All you have to do is keep doing the things that got you this far. Which is exactly what 99.9% of people don’t do. You have complete control over the direction that the rest of your life takes.”
Now before you start thinking the last sentence sounds new-agey, let me ask you – do you believe God gave us free will? If you do, then you know that you don’t have to write even if you really want to or even believe God wants you to; it’s your choice.
And this leads me to my first take-away and another quote:
“People don’t consistently do those simple things for three reason: 1) while they’re easy to do, they’re easy not to do; 2) you don’t see any results at first (or for writers, very little progress); 3) they seem insignificant, like they don’t matter.”
Writing only 100 words a day couldn’t possibly be worth it, or could it? According to Olson:
consistently repeated daily actions + time = inconquerable results
I don’t know about you, but I have always viewed time as an enemy never as a gift from God. But it is.
And if we’re doing the little things every day – even if it’s just 100 words a day – I believe it’s a writer’s way of showing appreciation for His gift, and then He blesses us with an inevitable “The End.” If we keep starting, we will finish eventually. It will happen.
This, of course, is my second take-away: steady wins the race.
My third take-away has been said another way with which you may be familiar – living on purpose. Olson says it differently:
“Greatness is not something predetermined, predestined, or carved into your fate by forces beyond your control. Greatness is always in the moment of decision.”
Now, I take slight issue with the first sentence. My sci fi side is showing right now because “predestined” is only a matter of perspective after all. I include it only as frame work for the second sentence – the moment of decision.
How often do I run on auto-pilot and not really think about how I’m spending my time? More often than I want to admit to. When I’m confronted with 10 minutes that no one else has claimed, what do I do? I think I turn on the TV to do something “useful,” like check the weather. Instead of doing that I could write a few words. It may not be many words, but 10 minutes here and there adds up over time.
I’ve only just scratched the surface with this book. There is so much more in The Slight Edge that is very applicable to a writer’s life. If you are interested in reading it yourself, there are several Indiana libraries that have this book. And if they don’t, you can always request it through interlibrary loan (that’s what I did).
I’ll leave you with one last thought: “It’s never too late to start. It’s always too late to wait.”
May God bless your writing journey today and always. Please don’t give up; He hasn’t given up on you.
Humbly submitted by H.T. Lord