Catching Fireflies

finding magic along the way

When Wishing Isn’t Enough

I know I am not alone in this. Have you ever had a dream that seemed too big? Too far away? Or maybe it was just a project that seemed insurmountable?


How did you tackle it? Did you run at it wildly or take it step by step? Did you even try? Or did you let the size of it crush you before you even began?

A few years ago, I realized that a writer’s chances of being noticed and picked up by an agent or publisher are slim. There are so many writers, and so many manuscripts, and only so much of the big publishing companies to go around. So, I decided to self publish.

This freed me from the endless inquiries and book synopsis headache. But it opened up an entirely different and equally overwhelming list of tasks, many of which I had no idea how to do. I spent many months researching how to format books, publish on Amazon, print on demand, marketing and so on.

And I almost gave up before I started.


My head spun with all there was to do and I felt the weight of knowing I was the only one who would do it. I had no team – no cover designer, no editor, no tribe. My team consisted of me, my husband who believed in me, my family and a select few friends who I had confided in.

After letting the size of my dream weigh me down for a few weeks, I decided to attach it one tiny step at a time. I created a document in my computer and called it “Big Dream.” I started with the huge goal that I wanted to accomplish that year – self publish my book.

Then I broke it down into monthly tasks and weekly tasks. I made sure to remind myself often that these deadlines were fluid. If something didn’t happen the week I initially planned it, I would simply move it to another more realistic week. I knew that life and my day job would interfere sometimes. Some weeks I accomplished little more than doing two blog posts and googling editors. But it was still checked off the list.

That was key to making it work. I had to make each task something I could break down to the tiniest steps. Looking at a week’s assignments of research paperwork for establishing DBA and email two editors for price quote  was a lot less stressful than if I had just put establish DBA and find editor. The next week might read file DBA, choose and editor.

It may sound like I was taking things way too slow, but at the time I had so many other things going on in my life that if I hadn’t made the steps this simple they would not have gotten done. I think that is the trick. I had to make the step so simple that there was no way my inner critic could derail me. I couldn’t convince myself there was no time to do it because it was a quick task.


No one other than me saw this list. I was free to move things around as I learned more about what was involved and needed to be done. If my day job got nutty and I needed to take some time off from chasing the dream, I allowed myself to rearrange things, and ultimately push out the launch date. Most importantly, when this happened, I forgave myself.

This method of attack helped me to climb the mountain. And in the process, I learned what I can do, what I can learn to do, what I need to find someone else to do, and who to call when I get stuck.


I wrote a bit about this process here, “Time, Space and Distractions – AKA Easy Excuses,” and here, “Eating the Elephant.” And I bring it up again now as I contemplate Book 2, and my husband faces an elephant of his own. Baby steps, hon. Baby steps. 🙂 You’ve got this!

1 Comment

  1. Wonderful post. I am a firm believer in breaking things down, something that seems quite scary at present as I launch my freelancing career. I enjoy reading your posts very much as you voice real concerns of independent writers that are wonderful and easy to relate to.

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