How does an ant move a mountain?
When I read Dan Miller’s workbook, Write to the Bank, I thought he was grossly exaggerating when he said writing was 5% of the job. The first draft of my first book was almost finished. It had been no quick feat. Surely the bulk of the work would be done when it was complete.
While Dan was emphasizing the importance of promotion, I discovered writing and publishing a book involve many steps. For me, that included a lot of learning.
Learning by Doing
I’d taught Bible studies for years before I began writing them. After I’d speak, it was not uncommon for someone to ask for my notes. So I didn’t realize that writing was a craft on its own. The more I learned about writing, the more I realized how little I knew.
I started attending writer’s conferences and took an online writing class. I attended webinars and connected with other writers. Little by little, or should I say, “grain by grain,” I grew as a writer.
At a writer’s conference I met an agent who emailed me the morning following the conference. She wanted to sign me on as a client! I felt validated. I thought my book would be published that year. Wrong. It took over a year before a publisher offered me a contract.
During my wait, I finished writing another study and retaught and reedited my first manuscript. Polishing, I’ve learned, is a big part of the process—especially for new writers.
Besides learning to craft our ideas into tight thoughts, we writers have to find our unique writing voice or develop our personal style. We have to connect with readers who share our world-view and want what we write. We have to learn to engage with our readers and meet their needs.
Intentionally Improving—Bit by Bit
Having friends who are dreaming of retirement, I wondered if spending all this time and money to learn a new craft at my stage of life was delusional. But a proverb kept pushing me forward:
“Go to the ant, you sluggard;
consider its ways and be wise!
It has no commander,
no overseer or ruler,
yet it stores its provisions in summer
and gathers its food at harvest.”
Proverbs 6:6-8, NIV
My daughter had an ant farm when she was young. We watched the little guys move mountains of sand one grain at a time. According to the proverb, if we emulate their small but steady steps, we’ll become wise. We’ll also be patient knowing today’s labor produces tomorrow’s yield.
Like the ant, writers have no boss to make us work every day. Instead of becoming overwhelmed by the mountain of things to learn and do, we must break our goals down into manageable-sized crumbs. If we pick up one bit of writing, editing, publishing, or promoting each day, then, in due season, we will reap a harvest.
Now you know the ant’s secret. He moves a mountain one grain at a time. What small task will you accomplish today to move your writing career forward?
Image courtesy of SweetCrisis at FreeDigitalPhotos.net