So I'm thinking about the whole "big picture" vs. "details" thing, and how it applies to writing. As authors, we tend to live in the details--because, really, we have to. 1000 words for the day. Working through a broken plot point. Meeting a deadline. Completing an outline. Whatever it is that we're working on, it's a detail that's only part of the big picture.
Question is, what is the big picture?
The obvious part of the answer is: a published work. An equally obvious, but perhaps more nebulous, part of the answer, is A Long-term Writing Career. Of course, neither of these is a given, and it's hard to look at a big picture that isn't quite in focus.
I think we get in trouble when we try to focus on the big picture that we can't really see. In the midst of querying or revising or waiting on submissions or working on a synopsis, we suddenly hone in on the I JUST WANT TO HAVE TWENTY-FIVE BOOKS OUT THERE AND LIVE ON A YACHT. Or even I JUST WANT THIS DEBUT TO SELL SO I CAN BE A REAL AUTHOR. Then the angst comes, because our minds are torn from the work at hand, and we feel the gulf between what we are doing and what we can't possibly define yet.
Dreams are good, and goals are essential. But we've got to train ourselves to stay in the now so that we can be most effective. The now is what leads us, step by step, to the big picture. And if we stay focused, we'll get there with less angst.
Mind you, I'm not promising less time. Some people have ridiculously heartstopping, almost-overnight successes. We read stories like, "Banana McFeegle signs with Agent du Jour, sells seven-figure, three-book deal two weeks later!" And we wring our hands and start lamenting about our own timetable. What we need to remember is that many, equally successful people took much longer to realize their dreams.
I think the "focus on the details" advice runs contrary to conventional wisdom about success. It's not generally a good idea to get lost in details and lose sight of the big picture. (Which is why teamwork is such a good idea--teaming detail people with big picture people.) But when it comes to our own, personal writing journeys, I believe detail-focusing is mandatory. Set your goals, define your parameters, but STAY ON TASK.
One day at a time. One sentence at time.
And that's my brain on this drizzly Friday. Thoughts?