Learning to cut grass.

The next time you’re driving (or riding), I want you to take a look at the ditch along the side of the road. Look for a good patch that’s really overgrown and been left alone for quite some time.

Now get out your gas powered weed trimmer, roll up your sleeves and get ready to go to work. You know the basics about cutting grass. You start the weed trimmer and sweep back and forth. You feel compelled beyond any reason to cut that grass. As you cut the grass, the going is not easy to start. After you get going for about an hour you’re hot, you’re sweaty and you realize that you’ve got the wrong shoes on and you really didn’t set aside as much time as you would like to have to get the job done. So you come back to it the next day a little better prepared.

Unfortunately the next day you’re sore, but you have a little better idea what needs to be done. You continue with sweeping the weed trimmer back and forth. Several times you hit a piece of debris or a rock that you didn’t see because of the grass being so high. You squint and look ahead and realize that you have no idea how much ditch you have laid out before you. Again you’re still sore from the previous day but you’ve made some progress. You look behind you and realize that it’s not pretty, but at least you’ve made some progress. You decide to call it a day. Tomorrow you’ll remember the sunscreen.

The third day you set out and it’s not so bad. You’re getting used to the heavy lifting (who thought a weed trimmer could get so heavy) but a little way in you just run out of gas. You figure you’ll get out of the sun and give that sunburn a little time to heal. Cutting grass was supposed to be a simple task. Now you realize that some planning would have helped.

Day four and you look at your task with dread. You really didn’t think it was going to be so hard. Surely other people cutting grass don’t have this much trouble, why should you have trouble? You’re still running into debris and rocks, but some you can find and get out of the way before you hit them with your weed trimmer by taking a little extra time, but those that you do hit annoy you and make you frustrated. Still you continue on and realize that it’s looking a little better than what you did first. You think about going back and doing it over, but decided that at least what’s done looks much better than what isn’t done. Tomorrow you’ll keep going.

Day five and the sunburn has had some aloe on it and feels much better now. Your muscles are getting stronger and it’s not so difficult to swing the weed trimmer back and forth. You find a log in your way and with some effort you manage to move it out of your way and underneath you find a dirty ring. With a little bit of polish you manage to clean it off and realize that it’s a diamond ring. You stop and decided to not only show off your diamond ring, but all the work you’ve done so far. Your friends look at the diamond ring and the rest of your work and decide that it was far too much work for something so small. Your efforts could have been better spent doing anything else. You’re disappointed as you realize that it is a pretty small diamond on that ring, but decided that since you can now see where the ditch ends, you’ll go ahead and get there anyway even if your friends don’t seem to appreciate the effort. You realize they may be right and it’s really rough cut and doesn’t look as pretty as the ring you found, but you’re still proud of all the work it took to get you to that ring. You’ll try and finish it tomorrow.

Going into day six you feel well prepared to finish off the task at hand. As you start out you find a deep hole. Could be a rabbit hole, could be a fox hole, could even be a simple gopher hole. You put down your weed trimmer and start digging. With both hands you dig in hoping that perhaps you’ll find another diamond ring down there. If only you dig a little bit further you’re sure to find one. You pull up heaps and heaps of dirt and finally all your digging is rewarded with solid rock. A dead end. All the work you spent that day is lost and you’ve got nothing but a big pile of dirt to show for it. You figure it’s best not to tell anyone about your hole and just put all that dirt back. With a frown you realize that you didn’t get nearly as far along as you wanted. Tomorrow is another day though. You’ll finish tomorrow.

All gassed up, you put on your wide-brimmed hat and you dig in one more time. You sweep back and forth and back and forth and it almost feels like you’re just going through the motions. That is until you see that the end is nearly upon you. You speed up but not too much because the section you’re working on is looking pretty good and you don’t want to mess up now. Suddenly, almost without realizing it, that last blades of grass fall.

This is a proud moment and you feel like shouting to the world. It wasn’t easy, it took you far longer than you thought, you stumbled along the way, but you learned so much about cutting grass that you feel very confident. You spend the next few days slowly going over the rough patches and smoothing everything out. Now when your friends see it, they compliment you on the work you did. They knew you could do it. Even though they were critical at first you still feel good at having them compliment you about getting it done.

Congratulations on all the work you did. Now that you’ve done it once, you know what it takes to do it a second time. You’ll only get better with each time you decided to pick up that weed trimmer and start to hack away at the weeds in a ditch. You decided to meet with other people who also cut the weeds in ditches and not only get their opinion on the work you’ve done, but see what they did and what you can do to improve your own work. You may even run across a professional grass cutter who is willing to share his experiences of years of weed trimming with you. Treasure those moments and continue to improve on your weed cutting skills. It’s not easy, but all that hard work really is worth it.

If you made it this far, you’ll realize that I’m not talking about cutting grass at all. I’m talking about writing. No it isn’t as easy as it may seem and you may feel you can do a better job at telling a story than the next person and you very well may be right. But along the way, no matter who you are, you’ll find bumps, holes, and gems. The job isn’t to flatten every bump or fill every hole (or even avoid them all) and most certainly it isn’t to find every gem along the way. The job is to cut the grass… er… to tell the story. You do the best job you can and someone will come by and appreciate the effort you put into getting the job done.

Getting to the end isn’t a race. Writing isn’t about how fast you can run, but can you get to the end. Doing a little every day will get you one step closer to completing that manuscript. You’ll get better with every word you put down. I guarantee that when you get done and look back and all that cut grass, um, those words on the page, you will have a moment of feeling not just great, but outstanding! Writing can be laborious, but there’s nothing quite like finishing.

Until Next Week

WOO WOO!

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Posted on October 23, 2011, in Unorthodox Writing Tips and tagged . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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