I’ve heard about Angry Birds for years, but I had no interest in it until my four year old came home from preschool sharing stories about the game from his friends. In the name of good parenting, I had to download it. Who am I to deprive my preschooler of an apparent rite of passage, right?
As I feared, I’ve spent more time playing it than I should. In the game, you use a slingshot to fire birds at pigs that are either on or inside structures. The goal is to destroy all of the pigs, and I’m addicted. Getting bumped up to the next level is as gratifying as getting my Master’s degree.
I’ve been knocking off the levels like gangbusters, and that kind of success requires a strategy: If I’ve tried to destroy the pigs a few times and failed, I switch gears and try a completely new way of doing things. If aiming the bird low doesn’t work, I aim high. If I’ve been aiming high with no success, I aim low, even when it doesn’t seem like the most logical approach. But you know what? It works. As I’ve been thinking about it, I realize I apply the same tactic to my writing.
If I’m stuck on a story, I often will save the file under a new name and begin experimenting until I find my stride. I’ll strip the piece down to its bones. I’ll rewrite the lead with a whole new angle and completely reorganize the story. I cut out large chunks of info and save them in a file labeled cuts. More often than not, trying something completely new is exactly what the story needed.
In writing, you can’t be afraid to kill your darlings. You also have to be willing to change your strategy when you find your approach isn’t working. Sometimes a slightly different approach can yield big results.
The same applies to life. Experimenting with Angry Birds or a Word document is far easier than switching gears within your career or family life, but it can sometimes be just as necessary. Although the new year is officially underway, I’m still thinking over my goals for 2012 and I’m especially pondering the small changes that will allow me to work smarter and find more time for more projects.
I’m curious. Have you ever made a change that seemed small that ended up making a big difference?