Tool 45 ~ Break long projects into parts.

“Then assemble the pieces into something whole.”

I’ve been doing this almost all morning. The semester is over (only one more final to go), my roommate is moving on, and my room looks like a cyclone visited and stayed a little bit too long. So I’ve been tackling the mess one piece at a time. Or I’ve been attempting to. Yesterday I just sat and looked at everything. There was and is so much to do.

Today I organized all my semester-long papers. Bing. One thing done. It’s a start, right?

I can’t imagine writing a book. It seems so long, so many chapters.

Clark talks about how most doctoral students never finish their work because they don’t discipline themselves to finish their dissertation. There is too much writing involved.

When Clark is in a group  of writers, he asks the question, “How many of you have run a marathon and if not, could you?” Twenty-six miles. No way. Then he asks, ” ‘ What if I gave you fifty-two days to do it, so you only had to run a half mile a day?'” I think even I could run half a mile a day.

Clark mentions a book from his nightstand, and I loved his choice, The Lord Is My Shepherd, by Harold Kushner. It’s amazing to me how both Clark and Zinsser pull the Word of God into their writing examples. But think about it. The Bible has how many pages? How many books? How many chapters? Verses? And they were each written one word at a time.

So “admit it. You want to write something bigger than you’ve ever written before, but you can’t get your arms around the project. The length and breath of it intimidates you. Cut up the monster. In a daybook or journal, break it up into its smallest parts: chapters, sections, episodes, vignettes. Without referring to any notes or research materials, write one of these small units. See what happens” (221).

There is Clark’s advice. Why not let’s try it?


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