“Great things are done by a series of small thing brought together.” Vincent Van Gogh
How true this is, yet how often we forget it! We fantasize and build castles in the sky and cook up grand schemes. And then we overwhelm ourselves and the “great things” we dreamed up seem to collapse under their own weight. How discouraging this can be!
Here’s another plan: “Think big, but start small.” An oak begins as an acorn. Golden honey as a few bits of pollen clinging to a bee. Or a glorious cathedral: It started as a gleam in someone’s eye, then a plan, and then it was built, stone by stone.
I remember reading a story about a woman who who’d just had a baby and completed her PhD dissertation in a year by writing only 15 minutes a day. Or consider this: If you wrote only one page a day, by the end of a year you’d have a 365-page book.
So let’s not get grandiose – let’s get down to the basics. Let’s start small, with the building blocks of getting what we want to say down on paper. Let’s start with:
One idea that we love and can play around with until it begins to sing and dance.
One word that we keep chasing and refining until it says exactly what we want.
One sentence we revise and reshape until it’s colorful and compelling.
One paragraph that we rearrange until it flows like honey into the next one.
Let’s get down to the bare bones of what we’re trying to write and start with a sturdy framework. Then let’s build on it word word by word, sentence by sentence, and on and on. Soon we’ll see the pages and paragraphs mounting up like raindrops in a pool.
Here’s John Steinbeck’s tip: “Abandon the idea that you are ever going to finish. Lose track of the 400 pages and write just one page for each day, it helps. Then when it gets finished, you are always surprised.” Sage advice from a wonderful writer.
Sounds doable, doesn’t it? Instead of global and grand, let’s just get going and all write on!
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