“Inch by inch, it’s a cinch …”
In her wonderful writing guide, Bird by Bird,” Anne Lamont tells this story about her book’s title:
“Thirty years ago my older brother, who was 10 years old at the time, was trying to get a report on birds written that he’d had three months to write. [It] was due the next day. We were out at our family cabin … and he was in the kitchen close to tears, surrounded by binder, paper and pencils, and unopened books on birds, immobilized by the task ahead. Then my father sat down beside him, put his arm around my brother’s shoulder, and said, ‘Bird by bird, buddy. Just take it bird by bird.’”
Great advice isn’t it? We’ve all been there — procrastinating and letting things slide. Becoming immobilized by the size of the task at hand. Looking up at a goal we’ve set for ourselves in our writing and thinking that achieving it will be like climbing Mount Everest.
It’s easy to fall into the feeling of being overwhelmed when we feel we aren’t equal to the task at hand. But feelings aren’t final — they come and go. And when we realize that we can take it “bird by bird” — and break it down into manageable chunks, well, then it becomes so much easier to lace on our hiking shoes and to start climbing.
“Inch by inch,” “bird by bird” — can we apply this advice to the job in front of us?
Can we put one word on the page and then another, until we have a sentence? And can we frame one sentence after another until we have a paragraph? And can we polish that paragraph until it shines and sprinkle it with a little magic to surprise and delight our readers?
Yes, we can! We can do this! A few words become a sentence. A few sentences become a paragraph, a few paragraphs become a page — and suddenly, we are off and running.
So if you get stuck today, don’t panic. Don’t get overwhelmed. Just take a deep breath, relax,open yourself to receive and then write. Inch by inch, it’s a cinch … Just take it bird by bird and you’ll get where you want to go. Write on!