Last Saturday I was at the gym working out. I was at one of the upper body machines, straining with all my might to make the 16th rep of this particular weight when I noticed the poster on the wall in front of me. This is what it said:
“There is no one giant step that does it. It’s a lot of little steps.”
The wall of the gym is, of course, the perfect place for such a poster. No matter how often I wish to look in the mirror and see Arnold Schwarzenegger, I realize that it’s going to take a LOT of little steps to even look like Arnold’s “before” pictures.
Another good place for this poster is on the door of the refrigerator. The millions of us who are trying to shed a few pounds would love to be able to arrive at the perfect weight with just one giant step, instead of the often agonizing many small steps it takes to fit back into our high school jeans.
Another great place for this poster is on the office wall of every aspiring writer. Those of us pressing towards our writing goals need to look at those words every time we feel discouraged, every time we get a rejection, every time we go over a draft of our writing that reeks of amateurism.
The truth is that the path to success as a writer is usually a lonely, worn, tedious path without a lot of pretty scenery. And it’s a path that we must walk with “a lot of little steps,” not one huge step.
So what are those tedious little steps? And are we indeed taking them? Or are we hoping in vain that some one giant step will bring us writing success? If the latter, then let me remind you that if you harbor that hope very long, you will become even more discouraged, perhaps bitter, and perhaps even begin to blame others (oh those stupid editors!) for your lack of success.
Let me offer you a brief checklist. See how many of these little steps you’re taking. The more you check, the faster you’re moving along the path.
1. Are you writing something every day? Even if you have only five minutes, keep that appointment with Microsoft Word.
2. Are you an active reader? Reading (and enjoying) the works of other writers oils the inner writer’s gears. If you’re not a reader, it will be very hard to develop a voice as a writer.
3. Are you in tune with the sort of books people are buying? You need to keep your antennae up. Always know what’s happening on the bestseller lists.
4. Can you name some steps you’re taking to improve your writing? Do you take a class at the community college? Read the writers’ magazines? Belong to the Christian Writer’s Guild? Every writer should be constantly improving his or her skills.
5. Which writers conference do you go to annually? This is the place where you will meet other writers, connect with agents and editors, and leave motivated to return the following year with a published book.
6. Are you part of a writer’s critique group? If you don’t know of one locally, consider starting one or join an online group.
7. Do you have several proposals or queries being looked at presently? Don’t put all your hopes in one proposal or project. Be able to write on a variety of topics and have something “out” at all times.
8. Are you reading the popular writers’ and agents’ blogs? (Well, of course you are. Otherwise, you wouldn’t be reading this). Make sure your daily blog reading includes at least one agent’s blog, one writer’s blog, and one marketing blog.
9. Are you setting goals for your projects? For instance, have you set a goal of, say, September 1 for that present proposal?
10. Finally, but certainly not least, are you seeking God about your writing career? Have you perhaps received some strong assurance from Him that you’re on the right track? I’d encourage you to make sure your writing future is firmly in God’s hands. It’s only then that you can have the patience to walk the many little steps to writing success with an assurance that God will bless your obedience and bring the measure of success He wills for your writing.
Here’s an assignment: Make that poster with the words “There is no one giant step that does it. It’s a lot of little steps” and hang it on the wall of your office.
And if you’re like me, you might make one for the refrigerator door too.