I started this blog to share with you my thoughts and ideas, but also my challenges and struggles as I work on finishing my first novel. And I’ve got to tell you, I’m really struggling right now. Why is writing so hard? I want to be an author. I want to finish my novel. Writing stories is really exciting when I get into a good flow or find myself bursting at the seams with lots of things to talk about. But what happens when I run out of things to say? Or when my creative juices seem to run dry and my motivation drops dangerously low?
I’m sure all writers go through it. Some might call it writers block, although I don’t know if that’s what I’m actually suffering from right now. For me, the thought of working on my novel, chugging away at the difficult task of editing all the remaining chapters is really daunting and almost down right depressing. Even with all the progress I’ve made so far, there’s so much more to be done and time is running out for me to meet my self-imposed deadline of October.
Someone once asked me, “How do you eat an elephant?” I thought about it for a bit after they asked. Elephants are HUGE, and I have difficulty swigging down half a can of soda, so eating a whole elephant would be absolutely absurd! How on earth could someone eat an elephant? Not that I’ve personally ever planned on eating one, even so, the question was intriguing.
I suppose an army of people could polish off an elephant if they were really hungry. But one person? That’s impossible, isn’t it? I mean, even those people who scarf down unbelievable amounts of food during pie eating contests, and other food eating competitions wouldn’t come close to eating a fraction of an elephant on their own. So how could it be done?
After mulling over the possibilities, unable to come up with any truly viable solution, I learned the answer and it was an amazingly simple one. The answer is, “One bite at a time.” That conversation has stuck with me for many years, and although I have heard that question brought up several times since, the first time I heard it was in a small way a life altering event for me. See, when I look ahead at all the work that has to be done I can get really overwhelmed. So overwhelmed in fact, that I find it really hard to sit down to edit even one little sentence. That’s because editing one sentence feels so insignificant, it almost doesn’t seem like it’s worth doing, unless there can be some guarantee that I’ll magically get in the zone and knock out several pages at the same time. Of course, there are no guarantees in life. All we can do, is what we can with the time we have.
Maybe that’s the real issue I’m struggling with right now. Instead of doing even a tiny bit every day, I let the size of the goal intimidate me into inactivity. Maybe this novel is my elephant and I need to take it one bite at a time, not worrying how big or small my bites may be each day. As a last thought I’d like to leave you with an excerpt from a motivational talk given by one of my all time favorite motivational speakers, Earl Nightingale. In truth, I’m posting his words partly for you, but mostly for me because I think reading them again just might help me out of the slump I’ve been in. Enjoy!
“The Habit of Success
Do each day all that can be done that day. You don’t need to overwork or to rush blindly into your work trying to do the greatest possible number of things in the shortest possible time. Don’t try to do tomorrow’s or next week’s work today. It’s not the number of things you do, but the quality, the efficiency of each separate action that count.
To achieve this “habit of success,” you need only to focus on the most important tasks and succeed in each small task of each day. Enough of these and you have a successful week, month, year, and lifetime. Success is not a matter of luck. It can be predicted and guaranteed, and anyone can achieve it by following this plan.
But most people live a life of quiet mediocrity and never achieve the success they truly desire because they get impatient. They want easy success or none at all. They see the path to success as a frustration, an impediment. Each day spent short of the ultimate goal is viewed as a time of failure and as an annoyance. As such, they get distracted by hundreds of little things that each day try to get us off our course. Yet the successful among us know the truth: If the end goal is all we desire, we simply cannot put in the time and effort it takes to be a success when it counts — each day — and therefore cannot lay the foundation for tomorrow’s success.
Pay no attention to petty distractions. Enjoy the easy days and shake off the bad days. Stay steadily on your track. Concentrate on each task of the day from morning to night and do each as successfully as you can. Know full well that if each of your tasks is performed successfully, or at least the greater majority of them, your life must be successful.