Watershed moment

What is a watershed moment?

Merriam-Webster’s online dictionary defines watershed as:

a crucial dividing point, line, or factor : turning point

This term is used in reference to a divide in a river where the water has two distinct paths it might follow.

In fictional terms, it refers to a key point where everything changes. It can be that a decision is made which will take the character down one of two distinct paths, and change the way the story will go for them, for better or for worse (or, let’s be honest, for both).

This moment will define the lives of everyone around the character, even if the decision’s significance is not immediately obvious.

Writing ain’t easy. For me, it does not often come easily, or at least it doesn’t *start* easily. Ideas may come simply, but ideas are cheap. Plenty of people have ideas, but those who follow through with them are more rare.

Tiring of my membership in the larger group of wannabes, I decided last week that I would do the unthinkable: stop sleeping in to 10 or 11 am and start waking up at the same time as my wife, roundabouts 7:30. Suffering from depression and chronic lack of energy, I did not enjoy making this decision, and I liked following it even less.

I got up, though. I got out of bed every morning. Not only did I get up, but I wrote, and almost each day I did it first thing. My numbers weren’t huge; I didn’t write more than 600 words on any given day. However, the decision to get moving so early was not easy, and each day was a victory.

The biggest victory occurred later in the week, when I was so tired I could hardly move. Heidi said that I could set an alarm for 9am if I needed to sleep longer. I set that alarm.

A few minutes later, I got up anyway, made us both some breakfast, and got to my writing.

My self-discipline is generally crap, so this surprised me as much as anyone, but it also showed me that I really can decide to make a change in my life and follow through with it. That one small victory gave me the energy to keep going, keep on this rather uncomfortable schedule.

I don’t like the me who accomplishes nothing. I’m not a fan of dreamily thinking about what I might do someday. Talk is cheap, while making a sacrifice – in this case, sleep and a schedule to which I was accustomed – shows my mind that I’m serious about wanting to do the writing. Too much of this is a mind game, which frustrates the ever-living hell out of me, but I’m getting smarter about how to play.

Today, I’m here at the computer, chipping away at the ol’ word mine, seeing what shiny bits I can dart back to the manuscript, while trying to keep an eye on the canary. (It’s dangerous down there!) Tomorrow, I will be back.

And the next day.

And the next.

What are some of your watershed moments, whether related to artistic pursuits or otherwise? I am interested to hear about those little defining moments which gave birth to important changes.

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