Build Your Story One Brick at a Time

My daughter had a big writing project due this week for her 7th grade Language Arts class. She loves writing, but only when it’s on her own terms (a.k.a. only when she feels inspired. Sound familiar?)

The assignment had a lot of moving parts. Required types of entries, illustrations, charts and graphs, cover pages, peer editing…the whole gambit. 

Needless to say, as the deadline approached, she was feeling pretty overwhelmed. 

I, of course, pulled out the Anne Lamott standby. “Just go ‘bird by bird’, honey. One step at a time,” I encouraged.

I’m pretty sure she rolled her eyes. Such is being the parent of a 13-year-old. 
 
But the truth is that Lamott’s classic Bird by Bird has been a must for writers and creatives for years for a reason.
 
There is no way to build anything without breaking it into small steps. 
 
If we don’t do this, we get overwhelmed. Overwhelm leads to anxiety.  Anxiety leads to … well, I suppose it’s different for everyone. For me, it leads to Netflix and cake. But it doesn’t lead to productivity, there is no doubl about that. 

Even if your story is small – perhaps a single blog post or an essay – the simplest way to tackle it is one small piece at a time. 

Maybe this looks like an outline, or a bulleted list. Maybe it is a word count goal (in the next 30 minutes, I will write 200 words.

What the bricks ARE is up to the writer. But it will be sanity-saving and far more productive to take the big vision and then take a look at the pieces that need to be arranged. 

Action steps: 

  1. Envision the story as a whole. Understand your themes, intention, and audience. 
  2. Take it apart. What pieces need to be created? 
  3. Set a schedule for when each piece will be created. 
  4. Write. One. Piece. At. A. Time.
  5. Stand back and take in your masterpiece. 
If we allow overwhelm and anxiety to persist, it guarantees that we will never get this story out into the world. And that would be a tragedy, in my opinion.
 
Photo by rawpixel.com from Pexels
 

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