During the lockdown, I had a wonderful opportunity to join Akimbo’s Story Skills Workshop. I was hoping to learn how to tell better stories. It was quite a journey as I came away with much more than what I had intended. I not only learned the conventions of an impactful story, but I learned how it can be done with all the fluff cut out. Nothing remains but the essence. Aside from honing storytelling skills, I was able to interact with people from all around the world who were on the same journey. We shared our deepest most vulnerable stories and became the most intimate of friends. Just for fun and as a challenge, one of the prompts we gave ourselves was to come up with the smallest viable story using all the conventions and the structure we learned. This is the story that emerged for me.
My smallest viable story
I am writing the next bestseller that will sweep off of the stores’ bookshelves.
But this dreadful writer’s block again?
I don’t feel inspired. I should rearrange my table or organize my stack of papers. What if I just write for the hell of it?
Pen to paper and hands to the keyboard, I begin my thousand-mile journey with the smallest viable steps.
I don’t write the next best-seller but I feel whole and connected to the universe in my expression.
I have some lofty goals in my mind for myself and my family. Oftentimes, I get stuck in either the results aspect of it all, or I think that the beginning needs to be filled with fanfare and fireworks. More aptly for me, I imagine a traditional Pakistani wedding procession complete with an army band, trumpets, and an extensive colorful entourage throwing confetti in the air announcing to the world I have arrived. Anything less would probably be disappointing. Either I get hung up in the beginning or I get hung up in the end. The important mark I miss is the messy middle, where the real magic and action happens. It is where the process takes place. It’s important to note that the process does not mean sporadic bursts of inspired action but consistent smallest viable steps. I can only rely on inspired action when the muse happens to show her beautiful face like the rare Eid ka chaand (moon of Eid sighted to signify the start of Eid for Muslims). What I can rely on is to show up every single day and commit to taking my incremental small steps to my desired destination. The only way I can do that is to pare it all down to bare essentials. For me, that looks like writing a minimum of 250 words per day whether I feel inspired or not. This is my little building block for the grand city of stories that I want to build.
Over to You:
Is there a goal or habit that you have been putting off because you are stuck with the beginning or end aspect of it all? What is the smallest viable step you can take every single day to cover this journey? Can you pare it down even further so that it’s as simple and doable as brushing your teeth? I am looking forward to hearing from you in the comments. Let’s inspire each other to start and commit to the dreams we have been putting off by living in the process of it rather than the beginning or the end.