Random Thought of the Day

A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.


Since going back to college, I haven’t had as much time to write as I would like.  I take a notebook with me to school, and during idle moments before and between classes, I write what I can.  Over time, it’s added up to quite a bit of raw material that’s worth revising, including six short stories I want to release as a collection.

But finding the time to revise all this material has been another matter, since it’s not as easy as whipping out a notebook in whatever location I happen to be at the time.  I need, like, a desk and my computer and ceramic wizard and stuff.

When some time does open up that I can use for revising, it’s easy to think, “Oh, it’s just a half hour at most.  That’s not enough time to really get into anything serious, so why bother?”  But after spending some time this afternoon going over a story, a random thought infiltrated my brain…

Even a small, single step brings one closer to the end of a journey.

While it’s not an original thought, nor as eloquent and enduring as Lao-Tzu’s words, it’s enough to make me realize maybe I can get more done during those stolen moments than I thought.

And because people like pictures, pirates, and cats, I present this picture of a pirate cat.

*     *     *

How do you inspire yourself to see a long project through to the end?  Have any favorite quotes you’d like to share?  If you were to eat a single taco, would it be hard-shell or soft?

20 thoughts on “Random Thought of the Day

  1. livrancourt

    Soft. Preferably hand-made.
    And yeah, if I added up all the time I spend on Pinterest & playing SongPop & tweeting, I’d be a lot more productive. One step at a time!

    1. Mike Schulenberg Post author

      Yeah, soft shells are where it’s at. And I totally know how easy various interests can easily use up what free time we do have, if we’re not careful. Often it’s video games, in my case.

  2. Lara Schiffbauera

    I definitely have to get my head around taking every moment I can to get done with these projects that seem to last forever. I was incredibly surprised this year when I started bringing my manuscript to work to write over lunch how much I was able to accomplish. It’s the same for editing. Like you said, every small step. 🙂

    1. Mike Schulenberg Post author

      Yeah, I’ve been thinking about trying to make my editing setup more portable so that maybe I can use some of the I use for writing new words. But on the other hand, I like that I’m continuing to create more new stuff. Just need to find the best way to balance it all, I suppose.

  3. Kim Griffin

    That’s a great thing to keep in mind. Any step forward is closer to the goal.

    Hard shell ~ the kind you have to work to keep in one piece. Challenges are fun 🙂

    Good luck in revisions!

    1. Mike Schulenberg Post author

      Thanks, Kim 🙂 Hard shell tacos are indeed a challenge. They tend to disintegrate in my lap with the first bite, so I tend to avoid those fancy parties where they only serve hard-shelled tacos.

  4. Elizabeth Fais

    Love the pirate cat! Oh, and soft shell tacos. As for revising … I trick myself into getting started by telling myself I “only have to do 2 pages” which usually ends up to be much more. But even 1 page a day adds up to 365 pages a year. Same holds true with writing new content too. 😉

    1. Mike Schulenberg Post author

      Yeah, I discovered the usefulness of that trick when it comes to writing new words a long time ago, although I don’t think I’ve applied it to revision as successfully as I could. But I’m working on that 🙂

  5. Kirsten

    Hey there Mike!
    Small steps are where it’s at. I don’t think there are that many people who can devote days and weeks to finishing a huge project like a revision, but in little steps it can be done.
    If you think about all the things you do, you might find some of them aren’t as important as your writing goals. I don’t watch nearly as much TV (and enjoy it more when I do 🙂 ) and unfortunately don’t have as much time to read as I used to, but it’s worth it. It really is.
    My favorite quote will always be Ray Bradbury: Jump, and you will find out how to unfold your wings as you fall.
    Trust yourself!
    As for that taco? Soft shell please. I can fit more delicious guacamole on it. 🙂

    1. Mike Schulenberg Post author

      Hey there, Kirsten 🙂

      Yeah, video games are probably my biggest time-sink as far as non-critical activities go. I’ve been taking a hard look at how much time I really spend on them and what I can do with that time instead. I generally play games in the same genres that I like to write it, so I like them for inspiration and stuff, but I’m pretty sure I can cut down on them and free up more time for writing.

      I’m not much of a guacamole person, but that doesn’t stop me from appreciating a good soft taco 🙂

  6. Ellen Gregory

    The important thing (which you’re doing) is to keep it regular — that way you can best use the moments between because your head’s already in it. Or so I find. As for editing, I confess I do like to have great swathes of time for that. At least until I know what I want to do with it (the amount of editing/rewriting required, for example). Once I have a scene-by-scene editing plan, I can then utilise the small spaces. Probably helps to have a baby computer to help you, though.

    Soft shell for me — but can I have fajitas instead?

    1. Mike Schulenberg Post author

      Of course you can have fajitas 🙂

      Yeah, part of what makes me feel like I need bigger time slots for revising than I do for writing is that I’m not even really doing a revision just yet–I’m working through a course that teaches a particular system of revising in order to learn a process that I know at least works for somebody. So when I sit down to revise, I’m actually reading through lessons and working through each one, which I suspect makes the whole process taking longer than a normal revision would. But I have to learn how to do it somehow, so I think in the end it should be time well-spent.

      1. Ellen Gregory

        Oh yeah, well that just adds a whole different level of complexity to revision… I dare say I should probably do something similar. There always seems to be something to learn — some new technique — in this game, doesn’t there? There is nothing to replace The Hard Yards.

        1. Mike Schulenberg Post author

          I don’t think it hurts to get some guidance specially aimed at how to revise a piece of fiction. One thing I quickly realized after finished the first draft of my novel was that I had only finished the easy part. Seems like revision is where the real work actually happens, at least for me. I suppose it depends on how clean the first draft actually is. Some writers sound like they start with a careful plan and meticulously make their way through the first draft. I seem to be the kind of writer that uses the first draft as the place where I discover the story I’m telling, so I tend to push forward even when I don’t like what’s ending up on screen because I know I’ll come up with something better later.

          But since I don’t have much that’s actually finished yet, it’s probably too early to decide what kind of writer I really am 🙂

  7. Tami Clayton

    Well said, Mike. Any time spent on our writing is another step closer to The End. That’s what I keep telling myself when I get down about not finishing something when I thought I would or could. The current manuscript is two months past due as far as I’m concerned, but then I remind myself that other parts of my life have had to take precedence and any words I get on the page is movement forward.

    As for your taco question: soft shells, all the way. With lots of guacamole. 🙂

    1. Mike Schulenberg Post author

      I know how it is to have a writing project feel like it’s past due. I suspect it’s harder for us to accurately schedule something like that when we haven’t been through the process as much as the pros, and of course our obligations in life can make it harder. But the important thing is to keep plugging away, and we’ll get there 🙂

      There is lots of love for the soft shell, but I suppose that’s to be expected. It is the more versatile of the two tortillas–for example, one could double as a coaster in an emergency 😉


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