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Creativity coach, writing and creative process instructor, speaker, author of Around the Writer's Block: Using Brain Science to Write the Way You Want (Penguin/Tarcher 2012) and Dancing in the Dragon's Den (Red Wheel Weiser), Teaching Artist at the Loft Literary Center.

Little Things Matter! A Lot!

For want of a nail the shoe was lost,

For want of a shoe the horse was lost,

For want of a horse the rider was lost,

For want of a rider the battle was lost,

For want of a battle the kingdom was lost

And all for the want of a horseshoe nail.

      – Benjamin Franklin, Poor Richard’s Almanac

Forgive the militaristic nature of the analogy, but this is an excellent illustration of how important the little things are. The little things, especially those that you repeat frequently, have far more impact than the once-in-a-lifetime moments (like having a whole day to yourself to get all those things done that you want to do and never make time for).

For Want of a Nail: If you cannot reserve 15 minutes a day for process (creative play just for the sake of play without concern or expectations about the outcome), 15 minutes a day for self-care, and at least 15 minutes for product time for your writing, if you can’t honor these 45 minutes, the day is lost to you.

For Want of a Shoe: If you can’t claim today as your own, it’s so easy to let tomorrow slide, too. And when you lose a couple of days, you may as well bag the whole week.

For Want of a Horse: If you lose a week, you can probably write off the whole month.

For Want of a Rider: When you’ve lost a month, you start talking about getting started next season or next year.

For Want of a Battle: When you’re talking about starting a project in future tense, (“Someday, I’ll…”) instead of present tense, (“Today I am…”), you know, in your heart of hearts, it’s probably never going to happen.

All For Want of a Horseshoe Nail: For the want of 45 minutes today, your life is lived or lost.

Oh, you’re not going to drop dead if you don’t find those 45 minutes for process, self-care and product time. But when you cannot claim even 45 minutes of your day as your own, your life is lost to you.

Are you claiming your life? Or are you claiming you’re too busy to claim your life?

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3 Comments on “Little Things Matter! A Lot!”

  1. Lesley Hoisington March 5, 2010 at 3:17 am #

    I like the layout of your blog and I’m going to do the same thing for mine. Do you have any tips? Please PM ME on yahoo @ AmandaLovesYou702


  2. rosannebane February 23, 2010 at 6:22 pm #

    Thanks Ailina. The important thing is that you recognize where you are and what you can do to start moving in the direction you want to go. Send me an email if you want some tips.


  3. 'Ailina February 20, 2010 at 11:08 pm #

    Perfect illustration. I won’t say exactly where in the poem I am, but I could pinpoint the things I’ve lost recently, and the things I’m in danger of losing. Startling insight!


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