Just Take It Bird by Bird

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How do you view the world right now? For some, the world seems smaller as we weather this pandemic together. Others feel overwhelmed by a world filled with pain, suffering and conflicting information. Maybe everything that’s going on in the world right now is affecting your ability to write. If so, you are not alone.

When you quarantined at home, you celebrated having plenty of time to write. You set goals: I’m going to start writing my novel. I’m finally going to finish my novel. I’ll write a thousand words a day. Two thousand. Three. Four. Five! Chances are those lofty goals fell by the wayside leaving you in a slump.

American novelist, Ann Lamott, keeps a tiny, one-inch picture frame on her desk as a reminder to give herself short writing assignments. Viewing the world through a frame the size of a postage stamp helps her to zero in and focus on one thing at a time.

In her book Bird by Bird, Lamott shares this autobiographical story:

usps_1_0“Thirty years ago my older brother, who was ten years old at the time, was trying to get a report on birds written that he’d had three months to write, which was due the next day. We were out at our family cabin in Bolinas, and he was at the kitchen table, close to tears, surrounded by binder paper and pencils and unopened books on birds, immobilized by the hugeness of the task ahead. Then my father sat down beside him, put his arm around my brother’s shoulder, and said, ‘Bird by bird, buddy. Just take it bird by bird.’”

Maybe today you are sitting at your kitchen table staring at your computer screen or an empty sheet of paper. Maybe you feel immobilized by the hugeness of the task ahead.

Stop. Breathe.

Peer through that one-inch frame. It can only hold the image of one bird. So sit down and write “bird by bird”. Just take it bird by bird by bird . . .

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Filed under Encouragement, Inspiration, motivation, Uncategorized, Writer's Block, Writing Tips

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