The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step. Everyone has heard this saying, probably a bunch of times. It speaks to the power of focusing on the now, on doing one thing at at time, one step at a time.
Often looking at the big picture, the enormity of the overall task, can be overwhelming, can give you anxiety. It does for me at least. It can paralyze you, keep you from even working towards your goals. You can see the road stretching in front of you as far as you can see and you don’t even want to take one step. It’s too hard, the task too insurmountable.
This is something that i’ve struggled with my whole life but certainly in my writing. Writing a whole novel seems an impossible task, a towering mountain of words. If you think about the effort involved in writing the whole thing at once you’ll go crazy. It’s too much. Hundreds of pages, thousands if not hundreds of thousands of words.
There’s a quote I like by E.L. Doctorow that gives me comfort. “Writing is like driving at night in the fog. You can only see as far as your headlights, but you can make the whole trip that way.” It’s all about breaking the task down into what’s in front of you at that time, in that very moment. One word at a time. One page at a time. Do this and you’ll see your novel grow in front of your eyes. This has been my approach for all of my novels and I’ve found it’s often been the only thing keeping me from oblivion, from giving up due to the enormity of the task.
This approach can be helpful in all aspects of life. Everyone faces challenges that seem bigger than they are. Getting from where you are to where you want to be can seem like too big of a chasm to get over, too far of a journey. A distance too far to travel. But you can. If you take it one step at a time.
You can follow me and my writing adventure on twitter @ James Bee.