How to Keep the Flame Alive and Stay Focused on Your Writing Goals

How to Keep the Flame Alive and Stay Focused on Your Writing Goals

How to Keep the Flame Alive and Stay Focused on Your Writing Goals
Photo by Jody Calkins

How to Keep the Flame Alive and Stay Focused on Your Writing Goals

There’s a lot we can learn from building a fire. In order to get it going, you need some essential materials. Without them, the fire won’t start.

Now the trick to keeping the flame alive is to use enough of the right materials that will allow it to take off roaring. If you don’t have enough of that, the fire will peter out and you’ll end up with a smoky mess.

We’re much the same way when it comes to our passions and goals. A little spark within us will only get us so far without added “materials”. That little spark ignites, but then the flame peters out.

Only the trouble here is that when the flame goes out, we're left with the remnants (i.e., the smoke, the remembrance of that flame). It will stick around, nagging at us, making us feel bad for not giving it the attention it needed to take off from the ground.

But if we use enough of the right materials to build our fires, we’ll get to enjoy the flicker of the flames AND the warmth. It won’t just be for show.

My husband and I used to have an old Franklin wood-burning stove (pictured above – doors are open for picture-taking only) and we were able to offset our electric and propane expenses by pumping the stove full of wood. The heat that we could create got pretty intense! And it allowed us to heat our 700 square foot house to 80 degrees plus, depending on the type of wood we used (90 degrees if we used coal). (Can you say, "spoiled"!!)

It wasn’t always that way. When we were living paycheck to paycheck earlier in our marriage and our thermostat was set for 55, I would go sit in the bathroom with the shower running (water usage and the cost to heat it was included in our association fee at the time).  

Now that we live in a different place, have increased our income, and are lucky to have an efficient stove to use, we’re able to enjoy warmer indoor temperatures.

Anyway, there’s a lot more where that came from, but that’s not what I wanted to talk to you about. So, let’s get back to how the principles of building a fire can help us in our lives.

If we have an adequate amount of kindling to start our fire, we can get it roaring. But we can’t stop there.

If we don’t add more wood to the fire, it will go out. The fire usually lasts for a little while, but then it goes out completely with no more coals left on the grate.

This is where a lot of people falter. They get excited about their newly-discovered passions, they create a plan of attack, maybe read books on the topic. They start to take some action. But then things get a little rough.

Resistance rears its ugly head and back down they go. Coming back to reality, as some people would call it. What were they thinking?

Just like a fire, we need to keep the flame alive by adding more material. Here are some ways we can do that to keep our passions on fire:

  • Read motivational books

  • Follow people you admire and who offer inspiration on social media

  • Strive to focus on the positive

But there’s one other thing we need to do if we want to maximize the efficiency of our fire. We need to close the damper. Just a little though.

If we leave the damper open, we’ll lose some heat from our fire, but if we close it just a little, we can contain more heat to provide warmth.

A similar situation happens with us, but in the reverse.

When we start taking action to fulfill our dreams, resistance will form, sometimes in places you least expected it. It can show up in friends and family and our own thoughts.

When things go wrong or when something isn’t working, it’s resistance, and it often means we’re on the right track. Now it’s time to close the damper a little. We need to protect ourselves from things like external distractions and negativity in order to keep that fire burning within us. If we don’t, we’ll let bad “materials” in and extinguish our fire.

While I’m on the topic of building fires, there’s another very important message I wanted to share with you. You probably don’t know this about me, but my husband and I almost died from carbon monoxide poisoning in October 2009. There’s a much bigger story behind this which reinforces my belief that everything happens for a reason and that God loves us so much. Someday I’ll be able to share it with you. (I finally shared our story in early 2016 – you can read part of it here: This Little Thing Called Frustration

But for right now, please take carbon monoxide seriously and, if you don’t have a CO detector, go get one today and trust it if it ever goes off.

The fact that Harold and I passed out at different times is no coincidence. Had Harold not come to before I passed out, neither one of us would have made it out of this house alive, and I wouldn’t be here writing this to you. It took me a year and a half to figure it out, but this brush with death was a wakeup call for me. There are no coincidences in life, and I believe that fully now.

My wish for you is that you work hard to live life to the fullest, and that you never give up on your dreams. Readers need to hear from you because you have so much to share. Each one of us has the power to impact so many lives. Always remember that.

Fill yourself with passion by igniting that flame and keep that flame alive by immersing yourself in inspiration and encouragement. Read books that keep the flame alive and stay focused on your goals even when it gets rough. YOU can impact the lives of your readers.

Keep writing! You have an important message to share!

Jody Calkins
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