Nearly four years ago, I had an idea for a book. I loved this idea – it brought together many things I enjoy and am interested in. As an added bonus, it let me talk with my colleagues all over the country and learn from them. It’s a good idea for a good book, if I do say so myself. I invited 50 people to talk with me and 30 of them said yes. So, in the summer of 2006, I interviewed them and during the summer and fall I transcribed the interviews. I was on a roll. Then in December, I accepted a new position. We moved in January and I started the new job in February. And the work on the book slowed down – imagine that.
But I keep coming back to it. I still love the idea. I have a complete draft now and this fall, I’ve been brave enough to let some people read it. They tell me two important things I need to know, both of which I know in my heart of hearts but need to hear from someone else: ‘It’s good. Keep going.’ and ‘It needs work. Keep going.’
I find the editing and rewriting part of writing part of a book to be the hardest part. It feels overwhelming. I’m very lucky that the people who have read it have given me concrete suggestions both large and small. The task for this weekend was to get started on ‘fixing the book’ and it’s now 5:00 p. m. on Sunday and somehow, I’ve been busy all weekend!
Finally, I remembered what I know, something I’ve learned from many talented people – pick one task and do it. I wrote about this last week as a way to cope with a limitless list. This practice is at least as important as a way to make progress on a creative project. In the same way a list that’s too long can be managed by focusing on one task, a project that is too big can be started by picking one little part to work on.
I can’t find the citation, but I’m certain it’s Julia Cameron who wrote that we misunderstand the phrase ‘Easy does it.’ We use it to mean take it easy. But when read literally, it means that easy gets it done. We don’t have to cart the entire wheelbarrow full of our project all the way up the hill in one trip; undertaking a few little pieces of the project at a time will work just as well.
I don’t have to rewrite an entire book this weekend, I just have to find one piece and take care of it. Easy does it. Easy will get it done. What great idea are you ignoring because you don’t have time to get it done today? Where might you make some progress if you gave your self permission to take it easy?