Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Poco a Poco: Little by Little--NaNoWriMo

How does a happily married, busy mother of two teens who works full time get anything done?

                                        used with permission:

I know I'm not the only woman in the world managing this balancing act every waking moment of everyday, 365 days a year, seemingly 24-7!  So, how do you do it?

At my first writer's conference, I was blessed to sit beside a wonderful woman who had the gift of encouragement and I experienced that moment when you are absolutely certain that God just breathed through that person directly to you. She said something so simple, yet it rang so profound to me at that time in my life when I felt very overwhelmed. I mentioned to her that it felt as though only the thing I focused on for a short time seemed well organized and satisfying, but always at the expense of everything else falling to pieces. If I'd gotten all the laundry done and put away, then the bills didn't get sent. Or if I'd stayed late at work and finished a stack of unattended correspondence, then supper didn't get made. Or if I'd managed to walk on the treadmill for thirty minutes, I sacrificed my devotional time. I was vexed with guilt. I felt as if I was constantly going around putting out fires, never in control of the wind that fed them.

She said, bring more balance by doing little by little of each thing.  Ah, "poco a poco"--little by little. Sort of like the little engine that could?

I could have kissed her feet!  Those words seemed so simple, but they felt like a life preserver to me at the time!

Now, I've learned I can do a mile on the treadmill in 12 minutes, which I do five days a week. I keep a Bible at my workstation, and read a Psalm or several New Testament verses before or during the work day. I pray during my 15 minute commute. I do laundry a little each day--it may only be putting a short stack of folded towels away. I try to make the bed daily--even if the rest of the bedroom is strewn with an assortment of clean and dirty clothes. I make breakfast everyday for my family, except on weekends--that way if I'm home late from work, or didn't have time to preplan supper, or have no groceries in the fridge, at least we've started the day well. Plus, breakfast is my time with the kids when evenings are spent shuffling everyone in different directions.

So, how does poco-a-poco apply to writing?

I'm so glad you asked!  Its NaNoWriMo this month.  National Novel Writing Month--when you are challenged to write a novel in a month. The goal is to write 50,000 words between November 1 and 30th. I know, it seems mountainous for sure. But I say to this mountain--MOVE!  So, taking poco-a-poco into account, I'm writing a novel this month, little by little. I'll post my word counts daily and see if how close I can come. Learn more about NaNoWriMo at

I started by forging a path to the desk in my office last night:

BUT, I shall not be overwhelmed. I shall not be riddled with guilt. I shall not let it get me down if I don't meet my goal. And I shall still walk on my treadmill everyday. Ok, the laundry might be the mountain that won't MOVE this month. But that's ok.

So, how do you balance your life, love, work, faith, health, hobbies?  What secrets have you found to cope with 17-18 hour days, and short nights? What sabbath do you take and when? Are you taking care of yourself well--even if its little by little?

Take time to see the blessings each day. This beautiful dawn-scape greeted me yesterday morning as I went out the door, arms full of travel coffee mug, lunch, purse, and keys that I just stopped and stared in awe of God's gift--until I felt the coffee dripping down my pants and onto my shoes!  Thankfully my coffee, pants, and shoes were all brown, so no worries. I hurriedly scrubbed them a little, snapped a pic and hopped in my minivan with a smile. Thanks God.

NaNoWriMo Word Count:
November 1: 1000 words.
              2nd: 1744 words.


  1. Wow Anne, What a beautiful picture. (The landscape one, that is.) :)

    Little by little...what wise advice. I've been trying to implement that concept in my own writing lately.

    I hope you have a successful Nano!