“To get through the hardest journey we need take only one step at at time, but we must keep on stepping.” Chinese proverb
One step at a time. One word, one phrase, one sentence. Sometimes it’s hard to remember that this is what stories, and essays, and novels are built from. One word at a time.
One step at a time. Wherever we are in our writing, whatever struggles we’re facing on our journey, there’s always a step we can take to keep moving, to keep up our momentum and our progress, however slow.
If we hit a roadblock, we can always take one step to over come it. We can go over, under, around or through it somehow, by taking one step. Just one step.
If we hit a thorny plot point, we can come up with one idea for untangling it. Just one. And that one idea will lead to another. And another, and before we know it our characters will be on their way again and so will our story. One step.
If we find that our pacing is sluggish because of too much exposition or or description or world-building, we can take a deep breath and begin to move chunks around until our story flows like honey. One step.
If we have a fresh, exciting idea for a story we’re already working on or a whole new project we want to begin, we can jot down whatever comes to mind about it without censoring or second-guessing ourselves about where it will go or whether it works. One step.
“It’s the start that stops most people” — that’s one of my favorite quotes from my great friend and mentor, Dr. Rob Gilbert.* It’s the start that stops most people — how often this is true! But if we remember that starting simply means taking one step — that every start begins with just one step, then it all becomes more manageable, doesn’t it?
So often, we go “global” about things we’re trying to accomplish. Before we even start, we build a whole narrative in our head about what lies ahead — the work, the effort, the problems. And what happens? A fragile idea and our enthusiasm for starting it collapses under the weight of everything we pile on top of it. I know — I’ve been there.
But if we remember to take just one step and then another, then everything becomes easier, more doable. We can do this!
So wherever we are today in our writing life, let’s remember to take one step at a time, and keep on stepping. And before we know it, we’ll be firmly on the road to where we want to go. Write on!
*Be sure to check out Dr. Rob Gilbert’s Success Hotline: 973.743.4690.