My friend and mentor, Brooke Castillo, has often spoken about taking “massive action.” Her definition of massive action is taking action until you get the results you want.
Well, as a part-time writer with many projects in the works, I feel like I don’t see results very often—but I realize that depends on what results I’m looking for.
If the result I’m looking for is to finish my novel, I’m definitely not there yet. But if my result is to write for 15 minutes every day, then I’m seeing the result I want.
Even though 15 minutes a day (my minimum) doesn’t seem like much, it keeps the momentum going and I often write for much more than that. I’ve noticed if I start skipping days the days can turn into weeks very quickly.
So writing for at least 15 minutes a day is “massive action” for me right now.
The difference between massive action and passive action is this: massive action requires you to create something while with passive action you create nothing.
In my daily life, passive action might be talking to my husband about cleaning the basement. Massive action is actually going downstairs and cleaning the basement.
Reading a book on the writing craft is passive action, and so is attending a writer’s conference. Writing a story, a blog post, or an essay is massive action because I’m creating something new.
So, even though to many people my 15 minutes a day of writing doesn’t look anything like “massive” action, compared to the years I spent reading novels and books on the craft of writing without writing a word (outside my journal), the last few years have been a huge (massive, even?) shift for me.
Once I started thinking about massive action I asked myself, “What are the results I want to achieve as a writer right now?”
- I want to rewrite my most recent short story until it is polished and ready to submit.
- I want to rewrite and finish the essay I’ve been working on (for way too long.)
If I am going to take massive action, all I need to do is keep plugging away at my short story and my essay until they are finished.
Reading the two books on craft I recently bought doesn’t count as massive action so I’m going to put them away to be read after I finish my story and my essay.
Talking to my critique group about my short story isn’t massive action, either, even though it feels productive and truly is helpful.
I’m not against passive action; I just need to tip the scales toward massive action if I really want to achieve my goals. We all do both, but passive action is so much less effort, we can easily spend all our time taking passive action and making very little real progress.
In your life as a writer, how much massive action are you taking compared to passive action? Do you need to change that balance?
Diane MacKinnon, MD, is a life coach, family physician, blogger, and writer. Writing this post has made me more aware of all the places in my life where I take “passive” action rather than “massive” action–and I’m taking steps to change that. My first non-writing goal is to get that basement cleaned out. I took massive action on that one today!