Two week’s ago I went to a local art shop to get some craft materials to prepare for the upcoming "Wreck This Journal" programme. (For details, please check here.) I saw this miniature canvas while making payment at the cashier. It brought me back to a writing tip which I learn from both Anne Lamott and Eric Maisel but only truly understood it lately.
In her book "Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life", Lamott talks about the idea of short assignment. She uses the one-inch picture frame she put on her desk to explain it.
"It reminds me that all I have to do is to write down as much as I can see through a one-inch picture frame. This is all I have to bite off for the time being."
Maisel promotes a similar idea in "The Creativity Book: A Year’s Worth of Inspiration and Guidance." He calls it "chunking."
"A chunk is a manageable bit of writing …"
I always get overwhelm feelings when I begin writing a story. And one of the things which got me is the fact that I have x amount of words to get to the ending. No matter how many words I got written in a writing session, I would always say to myself: but I still have x amount to go. With such mentality, no wonder there have been so many unfinished stories in my files. My panic button is turned on 24/7. All I could see is the gigantic Mount Everest sixty million miles away and I was blind to the little route in front of me.
To have this tip worked for me, not only I needed to focus on the immediate writing task, I also needed to be totally present and forgetful the same time. The presence is the total emerging in the scene that I’m creating and to forget about what will happen next. By doing that I’m making the task small, hence manageable. And if I started to panic or worry, I just told myself that all I had to do was to finish the daily 200 words count or just finished this bit where the man was arguing with his wife. And then I could leave the story, go and enjoy a cup of Chai Latte til the next "chunk".
Fellow writers and creatives, what about you? Do you practice chunking on a mini canvas?
BTW, the mini canvas was so cute, I just have to have it! :)