WHEN I LIVED IN SEATTLE IN THE EARLY ’90s, I found Marsha Sinetar’s DEVELOPING A 21ST CENTURY MIND oh-so-helpful. A little lost, I hadn’t given up my dream of making music, but was also interested in creative writing. But I didn’t know how to make the leap.
Some of my clients find themselves in a similar position: Quite accomplished in their working life, they have an unanswered passion for writing. And they’re left with a chasm to leap. A wide chasm. There are people who pace along the edge of that chasm for years, trying to figure out how to clear it in a single bound, how to go from having no committed writing practice to having a novel on THE NEW YORK TIMES bestseller list.
And that’s just not going to happen. Not because the publishing industry is filled with a bunch of meanies, but because we make our way—we live our way—to our bigger goals through the accomplishment of smaller goals.
In 21ST CENTURY MIND, Sinetar outlines a process for getting from where we are to where we want to be. First, we explore what we want—let’s say, “mental flexibility.” Then, we create a small-scale model for that goal. For instance, if we connect mental flexibility with physical flexibility, we might take a yoga class. Having increased physical flexibility via yoga, we might choose a ropes course next, which requires both physical and mental flexibility.
Likewise, if we want to serve as mayor of our town, we might first make a bid for a seat on our home-owners’ association board. Or we could sign up to play Facebook’s Social City, an online game that allows us to create and run our own city!
If we want to publish a book, but haven’t been writing consistently, we start small. We blog! Tweet! (There are writers creating their novels 140-characters at a time!) We submit letters to the editor! We join a writing group and publish an anthology of members’ work as a first foray into making our work available in book form.
Our models—small, interim goals—help us foster a sense of success and increased capability. No need to invest in a jet-pack to power us across that gap. We take it step-by-step. The possibilities, the models that will get us there, like our 21st century minds, are limitless.