The Power of the Small--Jizo Statute from Kamakura

There are a couple of things that terrify me: writing and technology.   Yes, I am writing right now.  Yes, I am using WordPress right now on a computer and publishing over the “internets.”  However, these things have only happened because of the power of the small.

On most mornings, I spend an hour at a desk in the Writer’s Room and follow a little regimen that I change flexibly:

  • Set a timer for five minutes on my Casio vibrating watch and read something inspirational or useful.  I just finished reading Talent is Overrated by Geoffrey Colvin.  Lately, I’ve switched to How to Write a Book Proposal by Michael Larsen.  (Since I wrote this last sentence I’ve switched over to reviewing my notebook.  I was feeling “behind” and once I started reviewing my notebook just for five minutes, I started having fun with the ideas I had stumbled upon over the past days, weeks, and months.)
  • When the timer goes off, I set the timer for two minutes and look at Janet Majure’s   Teach Yourself Visually WordPress. 
  • Then I check on to Silverspoon.   Silverspoon is an All Japanese All the Time service that I signed up to push myself to be more fluent.   Everyday, I log in and see what the “sprint” suggestions are.  Today is day 362 of my experience and the beginning suggestions are:
  1. Look up the lyrics to your current favorite Japanese song [3131.INFO] Play J-Pop Youtube with J-POP Songs Lyrics
  2. Play something, anything in Japanese. Shadow it for 2 minutes. Leave it playing audibly.
  3. Chillax for 10+ minutes.  Instead of just “Chillaxing” (relaxing while being exposed to some kind of fun Japanese media), I divide that ten minute period into two writing periods.  In the first period I work on my book proposal.  In the second period, I work on 
  4. Passage MCDs, Day 50: Song Lyrics | AJATT SilverSpoon  MCD’s  are a new and interesting form of flashcard.  I make my own flashcards by going to websites I’m interested in, cutting and pasting the most interesting material, and finding just three words I don’t know so well.  I use a online Japanese-Japanese dictionary and use those definitions on my flashcards.
  5. Do your MCD reps for 3 minutes or less.  These are basically online flashcard reviews.  I have thousands of cards thanks to the MCD technology that makes more than one card for each flashcard I create.   But the fact that I have thousands of cards doesn’t matter.  I’ve set my timer for three minutes and that’s what I’m working with.
  6. Do your MCD reps for 2 minutes or less.  Resetting the timer is almost like a little break and I begin again.
  7. Do your MCD reps for 1 minute or less.

Usually around this time, it’s time to go to school.  After that it’s like an educational emergency room, followed by baths, dinner, and story-time with my children in the evening.  I may listen to Japanese on the run, skim an interesting book, or study a few flashcards, but I have very little discretionary time.  This brief morning time is my golden hour.

I know the Silverspoon stuff may actually sound like a foreign language to you, but what is important here is the very structured use of time.  It may sound anal to parse time like this but it allows me to take advantage of the “time pressure” aspect.  How many ideas can I get down before the timer goes off?

Though I am busier than ever, because of the power of small I am getting more accomplished than when I was single and child-free.  I’ve spent years bemoaning the fact that I am not writing, but using the power of small, I’m actually getting things done and am almost finished with a book proposal.  Whether the book gets picked up almost doesn’t matter because now I get to move on to the next idea, taking quiet samurai baby steps.   Use the power of small.