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Creativity coach, writing and creative process instructor, speaker, author of Around the Writer's Block: Using Brain Science to Write the Way You Want (Penguin/Tarcher 2012) and Dancing in the Dragon's Den (Red Wheel Weiser), Teaching Artist at the Loft Literary Center.

What Writers Need Even More than Creative Leaps


We all seek the next big “A-ha” moment. We yearn for grand and glorious creative leaps. Those flashes of inspiration reassure us that we’re on the right path. And they feel so good.

A flash of creative insight might look like a huge, spontaneous leap of intuition, but that big, gratifying “A-ha!” is always preceded by a whole lot of little, seemingly insignificant steps, one after the other.

The “A-ha” can’t happen without all the “what if’s”, “how about’s”, “why not’s.” Not to mention all the dead-ends, u-turns and restarts that led to that insight. In fact, you can’t get new creative insights without pushing through frustration. (read more…)

Even more importantly, without taking action on all the “now what’s” that follow it, the “A-ha” is pointless.

Creative leaps will only take you so far. It’s the small, steady next steps that bring you to the top of the mountain.

Big Dream, Bigger Resistance

mountain-obstacle-looking-up-blocked-rf123-number-48972681_sYour big writing dream – a novel, short story collection, memoir, screenplay, chapbook, publishing a piece in a publication you admire or consistently posting to your blog – is your writing mountain.

You can spend all your time staring up at the mountain, marveling at how high it is, how dangerous the weather looks, how amazing the people who climb it are.

brain-freeze-2-rf123-number-21383786_sYou can keep yourself frozen in place thinking about what a big deal it is.

Nothing can freeze the creativity right out of your brain and send you running away from your writing in search of a distraction as fast as contemplating the enormity and complexity of a big writing project.

The bigger the dream, the bigger the resistance.

Small Steps Beyond Resistance

a_woman_climbing_a_mountainTo get past that resistance, stop staring at the mountain. Stop telling yourself how immense it is. Bring your gaze back to the trail right in front of you and start walking.

No one ever takes a really big step. Not really.

The last step to the summit is most visible to outsiders and therefore looks huge. It feels fabulous and definitely deserves celebration. But for the person climbing steadily up the side of the mountain, the last step is just another step, pretty much the same size as the steps that came before it.

You accomplish huge things by accumulating a lot of small “I can do this” steps.

Keep Climbing One Step at a Time

41907601 - beautiful vector image with nice watercolor brainOf course, you must have courage and commitment to take your first step. And the next step, and the next one after that.

It’s smart to have a map, guide and companions you trust. It’s important to have the supplies and equipment you’ll need when you start and to know where and when you can replenish those supplies.

But it all comes down to taking the next small step. Step by step, day after day.

What’s the next step up your writing mountain?

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