“Just keep going. You’re on the right track. You’re going to find it.”
Directions from a helpful stranger
Brooklyn is not one of my usual haunts. But one balmy evening not long ago, I hopped on the subway and found my way to the Grand Army Plaza. My destination: a book signing at an independent bookstore.
I was equipped with Google Map notes, but since I’m directionally challenged, I still felt the need to ask someone if I was heading toward 7th Avenue, a major thoroughfare. The fellow I asked paused briefly and grinned. Instead of simply saying, “Yes,” he made the comment quoted above. It occurred to me that this is not just a road map for finding a bookstore in Brooklyn, but also one for writing:
Just keep going: Whatever obstacles you encounter and however tough a writing session proves to be, forward momentum matters. If you just keep going, no matter how long it takes, you will eventually reach your desired destination. But if you let distractions or disappointing days derail you, you won’t get where you want to go.
You’re on the right track: Knowing that you’re on the right track makes all the difference when it comes to motivating yourself. To me, this doesn’t mean that I won’t make mistakes or find myself in a muddle or pursue time-consuming detours the don’t prove fruitful. For me, being on “the right track” means that I’m pursuing the right road overall and keeping my eye on the prize — I’m taking time with my revisions, steadily pushing my book to the next level, and aiming at completion rather than endless, self-defeating tinkering.
You’re going to find it: If I just keep going and stay on the right track, then I’m just about guaranteed to ultimately achieve my goal, which is to produce an exciting, engaging, polished draft of my children’s novel. The same goes for you and whatever major project you are working on.
So let’s keep it simple. Let’s follow these three steps and screen out everything else. If we keep going, stay on the right track, and have faith that we’re going to find what we’re aiming for, then we’ll all reach our writing destinations — and have fun along the way, just as I did when I reached the bookstore in Brooklyn and hoisted a glass to a fellow author who’d reached hers.
Many thanks to that helpful passerby in Brooklyn for inspiring me. Write on!