In one of Aesop’s most famous fables, The Tortoise and the Hare, the moral is “slow and steady wins the race.”
It’s a process of looking at the big picture or an end that is not in sight and breaking the main task down into a series of smaller tasks or in the turtle’s case, steps. The point is most things that seem overwhelming can be broken down to less intimidating and more manageable tasks.
I had a goal that I’ve met recently that took time and lots of turtle steps. I started it six years ago when I had an idea for a children’s story. It actually bumped around in my head for two years as I considered story lines and characters. I sat down one day and wrote it in two hours. Then I broke the story down line by line, page by page, to see where images would best fit. Then I roughed out some thumbnail sketches of each illustration and eventually I created each final illustration. This took another four years of turtle steps, making time here and there, it was a job that had no end in sight, until I realized I’d completed eighteen illustrations and only had a cover left to design. The steps also included research, attending writing conferences, talking to other published and self published authors, learning the technical processes it requires to prepare art for printing and also the politics of this new “business” I was venturing into.
But life is good. At this moment, the pre press process is in good hands at a graphics company in Ohio and within a couple more weeks should be on its way to the printer in Kentucky. Turtle steps, patience and perseverance, as well as a great cheering section and support from family and friends cannot be underestimated when it comes to achieving goals. And yes, you will hear more about it later.
Amazingly, I have had a life all the while this was happening and enjoyed the entire process of learning with each turtle step. Did I know that I could do it before I started? Ah, yeah. I’ve known the story about the Tortoise and the Hare since I was a kid. It made sense then and it makes sense now. Call it what you will, chunking, breaking things down, baby steps…keep it simple and keep it moving forward, you will eventually get there. I share this as much as I believe in myself, it is a process that allows me to achieve. You just need to understand it only take s turtle steps.
The best place to start is at the beginning. Determine what you want to accomplish, whether it is a creative project or running a Marathon. Make a list of everything you need to do in the order you need to do it. Then isolate each part into a step that can be accomplished in the time you have allotted for it. If you are write a book of poetry or create a graphic novel, maybe you only need to set aside an hour a day or if that is not available maybe only one evening a week. For most people who have a passion for their art form, it’s not hard to make time because it sort of integrates into the rest of their life, but even that doesn’t guarantee you can focus on small steps to build upon. It is truly amazing to see how that one hour a week accumulates into a lot of words. If it’s a Marathon you want to run in, just imagine all the extra benefits you get from accumulating frequent runner miles. You may even see the tortoise at the finish line, cheering you on.