Am I Failing with my One Little Word?

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So…. It is now the middle of September and I JUST did my first One Little Word project from Ali Edwards’s course. Oooops. Totally ok, though. “Keeping up” is not a requirement to be able to get something out of the practice.

Oh, hey. See what I did there? “Practice” …. My One Little Word is PRACTICE and it seems like everything can come back to it.

[On the off chance that you are reading this and not familiar with the project, One Little Word was created by Ali Edwards. It is the practice of choosing 1 word to meditate and focus on over the course of a year. Go here for more info.]

Back on the very first day of the year — big plans, big intentions — I failed to write 1000 words of fiction, and I failed to hit my 10,000 steps. That’s ok. It was January 1 and I still had 364 days to get it right. And then other things happened and more life problems occurred, and all of a sudden several months had gone by without me even opening my novel file to work on.

I was clearly a big ol’ fat failure. Not even able to walk 10,000 steps in a day. Not coming anywhere near publishing the 4 books in 2015 like I had planned. What a loser.

Or not.

To be honest, when I began this year and chose my word I didn’t even *think* about the fact that PRACTICE can also be associated with the being-ok-it’s-not-perfect part of making. It didn’t even occur to me that the very definition of PRACTICE includes some kind of failure. That’s why you need to practice in the first place, right?

I wish I could remember what I was reading or what podcast I was listening to that reminded me of this part of the definition of PRACTICE — because it completely changed my entire view on how I was doing with my One Little Word this year.

I simply can’t fail at something that is meant to be an ongoing attempt. It’s just not possible. It is literally impossible to fail at practicing. That is the whole point of practicing.

Which, frankly, is a huge relief.

“If it doesn’t work out, it’s just an experiment.” — Elizabeth Gilbert in a recent episode of her new podcast

Sept  002

Stamp from Kellie Stamps

So right now my One Little Word binder looks like this. Projects from 2013 and 2014 …. and this 1 envelope for all of 2015 so far. The letter written to myself for September’s project.

I might go back and do some of the monthly projects I missed. Or I might not. The projects are not the point. It’s the trying again and not beating myself up and starting up the practice that is the important part.

I’ve still got three and a half months left to PRACTICE.

How is your One Little Word going this year?

P.S. I’m sending out an email tomorrow morning about all the writing practice books I’ve been reading this year, if you want to be sure you’re on that list.

P.P.S. I’ve already chosen my OLW for 2016 and it’s going to be perfect and epic and I can’t wait.

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  • Kristina September 14, 2015 at 5:21 am edit

    Those things are HARD! The fact that you are more conscious of how many steps you’re taking is a *hehe* step in the right direction. I am definitely learning not to beat myself up when I don’t complete something the first time as well. Better to try again the next day than to let frustration get the better of you, yeah?

  • Amy T Schubert September 23, 2015 at 5:05 am edit

    Thanks so much, Kristina :)

    I totally agree. Before I got my fitbit I had no idea how much or how little exercise I was getting. I just worked all day. Now at least I know that a low-activity day is X-number of steps, adding in a walk is another X-number, etc.

    Just got to get better at all of that :)

  • Angelica @ Gardening in High Heels September 15, 2015 at 7:04 am edit

    This is such a perfect reminder that we aren’t perfect and that the act of practicing is never ever over. I can’t even remember the word I picked for this year. I think it was something like Focus and I have lost so much of that over the past few months it’s barely even a concept for me. I completely love that you said it isn’t over yet and there’s still time this year and that you’re giving yourself permission to maybe not even finish the 2015 project at all.

  • Kam October 4, 2015 at 12:20 am edit

    I think practice is a great word for 2015 for you…so far, it’s been a year for you to practice lots of new things as you encounter your big life changes. Nobody expects you to get it right the first time, you’re new to this situation and it would be ridiculous for anybody to demand you get it right the first time! I mean, driving across the country with the cats took a bit of practice, you found better ways to do things each day and now you’re practicing your new workflow from a different state :) Go, Amy, Go!

  • Susan January 2, 2018 at 11:15 am edit

    I know this an older post, but I wanted to comment anyway. I’m thinking about doing the OLW for 2018 . I think about doing it every year but never give myself the space or permission to actually commit to it. “Practice” is what I’m thinking about as my word, and I was googling to see how others used it. I really, really, really liked your comment above – where you realized you literally couldn’t fail at it.


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