Thursday, February 27, 2014

I lost how much?

Lost how much?

I lost more than fifty pounds this week. My secret? Not the grapefruit diet, not low-carb, and, no, not a juice cleanse.  My secret was something called ‘the critical inch’.  

The fifty pounds was paper and the project was back filing.  Sorry about that. I figured if I didn’t entice you, you might fall asleep as soon as you read ‘filing’. But enough about all that, what’s the critical inch? It’s not around the waist, that’s for sure. 

That critical inch

The late motivational writer and and speaker, Richard Carlson author of Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff and other upbeat self-help books seems to have introduced the concept. It can be described as ‘What’s most important right now?’  or “What will truly make a difference?”

In the writing world, draughts, outlines, edits and proofs are often urgent with ‘drop-dead’ deadlines.  They are always important as well as urgent. I usually find myself scrambling to catch up with the rest of my life. Something always gives.

I was, of course, thrilled to come across this ‘critical inch’ idea. What would my critical inch be?  Something exciting for a new book series?  Launching my two dozen short stories as e-books?  Deciding to write a play?

Please someone file me!
But I knew better. That critical inch was getting rid of the toxic sludge of undone tasks. In fact, I knew the ‘critical inch’ was connected to many more inches of filing and even some feet stacked high in boxes.  

But how did I get into this situation. First of all, paperwork has never been my strength. Then two years ago, my hubby ended up paralyzed in hospital after brain surgery. When he went into the hospital we had both finished very intense projects with lots of paper and follow-up.  Needless to say, no paperwork got done. 

Because our house was multi-story and he was in a wheelchair, I had to get it packed up, staged and sold. We needed to move to a single story house. 

The good news: he got better. They called him The Miracle Man. The bad news?  All the paper that never got sorted out in either office. More clutter and chaos joined it as the original filing systems had gone belly-up. Whatever I needed to do, some key documents was missing. The magnitude of sorting it out was overwhelming. Things just got worse. I would find myself wishing that Charlotte Adams was real!

We could have just tossed it all, but we knew that there were important documents in with all that clutter.  And there were.

When I read about the critical inch, I realized that the strain of all this undone paperwork was a drag on my creativity and energy.  The minute the edits for the third book collector mystery were done, I rolled up my sleeves, literally and figuratively, and got to work.  I started every morning and made it the first and most important activity.   

Of course, filing is incredibly boring, IMHO, so I turned on the Winter Olympics and watched while I took care of the mind-numbing parts of the challenge.. More than once I told myself that if those young women could hurtle through the air and do spirals in the moguls, then I could get this project done. My filing was onerous, but a lot less scary than the luge. 

At the end of the week, paper was all filed, recycled or shredded.  I felt lightheaded with freedom from the weight of all that undone stuff.  Story ideas are popping into my head at a furious rate. I’ll get them done too.  Stay tuned.

Nice clean desk! No old filing.

My point is that sometimes a small idea can lead to big results. Thank you Richard Carlson for this great idea and for the body of work you left behind. 

That’s my critical inch story or the first one anyway. Do you have one?  Have you overcome any major hurdles lately? Or are you planning to?  Was it ski moguls? Let’s hear it!
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