Move, just a little. That can be enough.
Any move, forward or backward, in any measurable increment, is progress. An opportunity to learn, to gain perspective, to gather courage. And a lifetime of slow progress, or even a few months of it — despite or in defiance of the apparent mad rush of our daily lives — might be enough to promote real growth and change.
Or, to bring things down to the ground level, a little slow progress, today, has the capacity to build up momentum for tomorrow (and so on).
This is something I have learned, in recent years. As I’ve grown up and matured, as I’ve failed plenty and have gained just a few victories.
I wrote a book of fiction this year, in the middle of completing my first feature film. I did it one day, and often only a few hundred words, at a time. If you had told me ten years ago that those would be the conditions under which The First Book would be written — I wouldn’t have believed it.
But I might have smirked a little, in considering the prospect. It’s a subtly bad-ass move. The picture about provides a snap-shot of how I did it. At a certain point, fear had set in, and I was afraid of stopping halfway through the first draft. That would have hurt, so I set small daily goals, to pursue each morning. And it worked.
I believe that the real heavy work behind any big thing, whether a book or a script or a shot list, or an engineering problem or a code problem — it gets done on the peripheries of life and consideration. We think for a while, softly in increments, or even with speed and heat, but ultimately we tire or become frustrated and must turn away. Then, suddenly, something clicks out of nowhere and we move forward in a leap.
This is the way it goes, much of the time. And yet it becomes difficult to depend only on such leaps, of inspiration or intuition, to sustain progress. Too much pressure is put on something outside our control, if not our sphere of influence, and we become constricted.
This is why and how small steps help. It’s why focus, and simplicity, and then deliberate unfocused time, spent without a clear purpose other than enjoyment or physical engagement, lead to sudden, significant, measurable progress over time.
It takes a degree of faith, to trust such a process, and not wring it or ourselves dry.
In addition, many that don’t have the patience or the talent for it spend much of their time leeching off those that do, intent on convincing the talented how indispensable they themselves are…in their steady blandness.
It’s a much less heavy burden, to proceed at a monotone, than to subject oneself to the rises and falls of creative productivity. There’s some utility in it, perhaps, but not much of that faith, upon which the real success of any one enterprise often rests.
To me, this reproves the proper and natural order of the creative process, within the macro as well as the micro. Keep the creativity, the calling, in first position.
Remain deliberate, and stolid in such deliberation, until all the answers that are going to come are given in the quiet moments of inspiration, themselves providing color and depth to the daily grunt work completed by yourself and others in pursuit of truth. This is all we can do.
No amount of extra magic exists. It is that simple, and that difficult. The rest of it comes second, is so much filler (which can be dispensed with) or distraction (which can be handled by others).
I do believe that, if we march on, we’ll eventually get somewhere. Until the time comes to get up and do it again.
My name is Michael. I am a Writer and Filmmaker of hopeful stories for complex people. Lately, I have been sharing some reflections and stories every morning. Once per month, I send a special note to those on my email list. They get exclusive stories and advanced (sometimes free) access to my work. You can join this exclusive group here. Thanks for reading.