After talking about it for a little while, we realized that any of the three ways would work fine to get him where he wanted to go. In the process of thinking through his project, he asked, “When you have multiple ways to do something or to say something, how do you choose which way to go? And, how do choose how to start?”
“I think through each of the options and let the mental dominoes fall through to the end results, respectively. If all of them wind up doing the same thing, then I pick the one I like the most, based on gut feeling. But, if I’m working on a story and none of the three ideas seems better than the others, then I’ll just pick something and start going at it. Because, after getting a few paragraphs into it, the story or project will tell me if it’s still the right way to go. If it’s meant to go a different direction, then that will become evident, somewhere along the way.”
“But how do you know how to start?” my friend asked, again.
I replied, “It’s sort of like hanging a board in mid-air.”
Years ago, I was trying to finish off an open area in the attic of my house. There was plenty of room, and lots of options, but there wasn’t framework where I wanted it. I was wishing that I could hang some boards in mid-air, to make it magically happen.
I talked to a neighbor who had done some remodeling in the past. When I asked him how to hang a board in mid-air, he laughed. So, I explained a little more about what I was trying to do.
My neighbor said, ‘Ah, classic! You have to build out to where you want the wall and attach the wall to that. Go back up in the attic with a good light, and visualize what you want the room to look like. After you’ve worked out the details, then draw them out or sketch them on paper. It’ll help to have that rough draft when you start nailing boards into place.’
Climbing back into the attic, I looked at the empty space differently. Yes, still lots of options, but there were really only a couple that were efficient and realistic. Ten or fifteen minutes later, I had a pretty good idea of what the room would look like. From that visual, I was then able to reverse engineer the boards and connection points that would facilitate the finished room.
Ultimately – yes – I was able to hang a board in mid-air. But, it was attached to another board, that was attached to another board, that was attached to the rafters of the existing framework of the building.
After my writing project friend heard the “hang a board in mid-air” story, he smiled and said he would go visualize and sketch out the framework that was already in his head.
Like my friend who was working on a writing project, what do you have going on that you’re trying to figure out how to get from here to there? Visualize, sketch, and reverse engineer…
You can do it! You can get from here to there!
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