One Piece (Word) at a Time

IMGP8409Last fall two trees came down on our acreage and this spring two more needed to be removed—three tall fir and hemlock trees bordering the creek plus an alder that resided in its midst. The trunks were chainsawed into chunks and transported to our driveway where the pile of wood grew to a daunting height. Splitting and stacking the weighty pieces seemed like an overwhelming task. The gnarled and knotted grains resisted axe, maul and sledgehammer. We discussed the possibility of renting a woodsplitter but days went by as we procrastinated.


Today was the day. By 7:00 a.m. my husband was on the road to town to rent the splitter. By 8:30 a.m. he was hard at work. He split; I carried; friends helped. By 4:00 p.m. the pile of logs was reduced to useable lengths of firewood. The job was accomplished by making a start and working at it one piece at a time.


Similarly, writing happens one piece at a time–one word, one page, one scene. Only when we tackle the task with the goal in mind and commit to working systematically toward it will the end be realized. Don’t look at the overwhelming pile. Reach for one piece at a time.



10 thoughts on “One Piece (Word) at a Time

  1. Dave Ebright says:

    I apply your words of wisdom to everything – even the tasks that appear overwhelming – but use an old African ‘culinary’ example. “How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.”

    Wonder if it (elephant) tastes like whale – I tried whale once (in Iceland). It wasn’t very good.

    Didja grind the stumps out? Hurts when ya hit ’em on a lawn tractor. Yeah – run into one of those babies & ya might as well just head out to the dentist for new fillings. (They don’t do the mower much good either.)

    Hope your back’s OK. Sheesh….

  2. Elephant meat? Hmmm, can’t say I know how it would taste — haven’t tried whale either. Now moose, elk and venison, those I’m very familiar with. My hubby hunts them.

    The pile in the foreground wasn’t visible in an earlier picture but this one shows all the wood except for a couple wheelbarrow’s full. My back’s okay but hardworking hubby was rudely awakened with a charlie horse part way through the night. 😦 Fortunately we don’t have to worry about the stumps as they’re all in the creek gully where we don’t mow.

  3. Jody Hedlund says:

    Thanks for your comment on my blog today! What great advice! I’m planning to share a snippet from it in tomorrow’s post if that’s okay! And I appreciate your post today too–sometimes our writing goals can look overwhelming! It’s a great reminder to just take one piece at a time!

  4. Hi Jody,

    I’m not sure what I said that you particularly liked but you’re welcome to share anything you think your readers will find helpful. That’s what our writers’ community is all about… sharing and being helpful. 🙂

  5. joylene says:

    Good for you, Carol. I love my splitter. Can’t imagine life without it anymore. I procrastinated enough & finally went to work on the basement. I ate more dust than my shop-vac could inhale.

  6. Joylene – In the past DH has cut his share of wood, and doesn’t mind when it’s one tree at a time, but this was quite a job. The piles blocked access to our camper so we couldn’t get it out to go on holidays until the wood was moved; there was only so long we could procrastinate.
    I don’t envy you your basement task, but at least it should be a relatively cool place to work on summery days.

  7. Katie says:

    What an excellent analogy and so very, very true.

  8. vade55 says:

    Good analogy, Carol. I notice that splitting the wood was a team effort. Sometime writers need to work with others to make their task less overwhelming, too. That’s where critique groups and writing forums come in handy.


    • That’s true. We might write in isolation much of the time, but there are many aspects of the overall trek towards publication that are made easier by the support of a writer’s community.

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