I admit it. I love to follow the Iditarod. We’re into Day 5 and Martin Buser‘s team has just left the Takotna checkpoint (that’s 419 miles out of the 1131 total miles completed).
This great race across Alaska began with 67 mushers and around 1067 dogs. It takes a lot of training, planning, strategy, and some luck. Even if you are not interested in how many dog booties have to be made, how many pounds of dog food are required at each checkpoint, when a musher takes a rest and when they push on, or how a musher cares for his/her dogs on the trail, you can still learn something from this race.
Iditarod Insider analyst Bruce Lee keeps the online community posted with frequent updates. Recently he let us know What [the] Mushers [are] Really Thinking Right About Now:
As the sled dog teams head out on the Iditarod trail you might wonder how do you face a run of over 1000 miles to Nome? The fact is you dont. If you leave the starting line thinking about the finish in Nome youre doomed to failure. To think of Nome is to create a huge psychological mountain to climb. Mushers keep the big picture at bay and take it a mile at a time. The mile behind you is over and the miles ahead arent here yet. Theres just the area of trail youre traveling at any given point. One mile at a time. One hour at a time.
For those of us with writing projects that have looming deadlines, we can substitute “chapter” for “checkpoint” and “sentences” for “miles.” The key for me is to do as these mushers must–keep the big picture at bay. That’s not to say we should lose sight of the big picture (it’s necessary… you have to know where you are going!), but it does mean that I can’t let the immensity of a project paralyze me. I’d never start! And often, if I’m truthful, it’s the reason that some days never get a word written. On those days I turn my eyes off the small section of the trail for the day and get distracted by the overwhelming burden of the entire project.
We all have our own version of arctic weather hurling meteorological obstacles at us. But whatever is slowing us down or attempting to thwart us from the goal, we must continue to remember to take it one step at a time. Or perhaps I should say, one word at a time.
A great metaphor. I struggle with this as well, but try to keep Mark Twain’s words before me: “How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.” Your version is a bit less grisly!
Mindy, I also think of the movie “What About Bob?” and the refrain “baby steps, baby steps!”