Wednesday, 28 May 2014

The Small Stuff

I've written about kaizen - making small, continuous changes - in the past (see How Kaizen Can Motivate Writers and Kaizen in Writing), but lately I've been noticing how little things can have a big impact; without much effort or conscious thought put into building on them. For example, I decided at the beginning of last year to use body lotion at least once a week. Why? Because my legs and elbows were getting dry and sore. However, paying more attention to my body has been instrumental, I believe, in helping me to make healthier choices.

I found confirmation of my observation in a book I've just started to read, You Can Change Your Life by Rob Yeung:
"Introducing even small tweaks into our lives can create a virtuous cycle, an upward spiral, a self-perpetuating process of fulfilment and further change."
Yeung is a psychologist and everything in his book, he assures us (I don't know - I'm only a little way in!), is backed up by scientific studies. So my body-lotioning may well be behind my recent improvements in health fitness,

After reading this, my first thought was "how can I use this to help my writing?"

Then I realised I already am helping my writing by making small changes. The most obvious one is that I'm making an effort to submit my stories to literary journals and competitions. This has made me take my writing more seriously and forced me to act like a professional writer by resubmitting work that gets rejected, whereas I used to abandon rejected work assuming it simply wasn't good enough.

Similarly, when I make an effort to write every day, I tend to write far more than I do by writing nothing some days and "bingeing" on writing a few days a week. By the way, the binge-starve cycle doesn't work for losing weight (and maintaining it) either - I learnt that the hard way!

So now I'm wondering what small changes have had a large, perhaps unexpected, impact on other people's lives. What "tweaks" have sent you on an upward spiral? What changes have had unexpected, positive side effects in your life and writing?


  1. Yes, like you, Hayley, I've discovered over the years that small things become massively helpful if you do them every single day. I think it's the consistency that counts. I've done the same stretching exercises daily for over twenty years. Always exactly the same every day. I think it's good discipline and it helps keep everything toned. I'm still the same size as I've always been, so I guess it must work.
    I do the same with writing. I write every day, no matter what else I'm doing. Even if I need to get up at the crack of dawn to fit it in, I make sure i don't miss a single day. I think it works for me because I 'like having a structured life and I'm also very resistant to change!

    1. Thanks for your comment, Joanna. I read recently that 5-10 minutes of yoga a day is far more effective than an hour-long class once or twice a week. It makes sense: animals stretch throughout the day!

  2. Thanks for another inspiring post, Hayley - between you and Joanna, you've convinced me to start those daily stretching exercises! I do agree that consistency is key to all improvement.

    1. Thanks, Rosemary. Yoga is definitely something I plan to put more effort into from now on!