The power of the tweak

by Starla J. King on January 15, 2013

Crash diets.  Total makeovers.  Complete home renovations.  Sold-out theaters, arenas, & stages.

We tend to reward the phenomenal leaps and huge accomplishments while we overlook or scoff at the tiny snippets of success.

It’s no wonder, really.  It’s on TV and in magazines every day:  huge transformations of every sort compressed into 1-hour chunks.  “Before” and “After” scenarios that give us whiplash.

Yes, those phenomenal life shifts are amazing and laudable… and yes, the supersonic achievements deserve grand attention and applause (and DVR-worthy status).

But let’s not forget the power of the tweak — that slight adjustment you make  (in your routine, process, environment, support system, etc.) that sets off a shift in all of the interconnected parts (think “butterfly effect“) … and turns out to have an impact exponentially greater than the initial action you took.     Here, I’ll give you an example:

I had been stuck around my journaling (yes, it happens to writing coaches too).  I’d gather my journal, my favorite pen, sit in my cozy conducive writing space, and…   not write.   Or on a good day, at least scrape out a sentence or two before I bored myself out of the room to something more interesting.

Each time I’d attempt to write, I found myself longing for a new, smaller, hard-back, spiral-bound notebook with sleek pages to welcome me — a little tweak to my writing environment.  Silliness! I thought.  Clever procrastination ploy on the part of my muse!  CLEARLY there’s some deep-seeded traumatic event hidden deep beneath my unwritten words that is keeping me from writing — no new notebook is going to solve THAT creative block!

But the not-writing continued, and the new-notebook-longing didn’t go away, so I finally gave myself an “Artist Date” to the office supply store.

I somehow managed to wrestled my ecstatic muse down to a purchase of just 3 different notebooks:

  • 1 (well, 2 of this kind. ahem. cough.) black Canson lined, spiral-bound, hard-cover journal with extra thick, extra smooth, extra white sheets (I just fainted a little):  for free-flow spill-everything — including tears — writing.
  • 1 red Miquelrius leather soft-bound teeny-squared graph-lined journal to shake my creative brain up into poems, random sketches, little cuboid delights of filled-in color.
  • 1 unlined black Moleskine leather soft-bound makes-me-look-like-an-artsy-person journal for… making me look artsy.  I’m sure I’ll find a use for it one day.

And I’ve written… easily… in my journal(s) each day since the purchase of those new word-collecting spaces.  New notebooks is truly all it took this time.

Tiny tweak; huge impact.

new journals with catLike moving my morning meditation time from 15 min to 30 minutes has taken meditation from a lovely stress reliever to a profound experience whispering through my entire day (and kissing my writing).

And keeping a little extra space in my schedule each day so I have room to work without the creativity-killer of jam-packed time breathing down my neck.

And changing my browser homepage from the NYTimes (oooh, shiny!!) to my time-tracking login page.

And putting the dang cat bed ON my desk so there’s more sleep (her, not me) and less meowing for attention (her, not me) when I’m trying to concentrate.

Tiny tweaks; huge impact

If you’re having trouble wrapping your mind, art, soul, or body around a full overhaul, start with a refinement of what you already have, a tweak of what you’re already doing.  It just might be enough.

Tiny tweaks; huge impact 


You will find more ways to make tiny tweaks for huge impact in my self-paced eCourse: Court Your Muse: A Practical Approach to Creative Progress.


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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Amy January 16, 2013 at 11:28 pm

I thought about this post today while considering Facebook’s question “What’s on your mind?” and realized those hastily, sometimes emotional and haphazard post updates are missing the tweak. The tweak of words to better convey thoughts; the tweak of words to soften the language; the tweak of words to consider how the reader will feel… Too often, we are all missing “the tweak.”


Starla J. King January 17, 2013 at 9:46 am

Amy, I love your “application” of this post! Taking the time to make the tweak… paying enough attention to make the tweak… taking responsibility for each word and being intentional with each word. YES.


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