Knowing and doing are so very different. We can Google the steps to find an answer to something, but it’s the extra experience, the knowing what to do when something doesn't come easy that enables us to transform our knowing into doing.
I was explaining the writing process to my son. He had a 300 word paragraph to write for school. “This is impossible!” he said. “It can’t be that hard,” I responded.
I’m a writer. I know the writing process. First, you brainstorm and get all of your ideas down. I asked him question after question and wrote his words on the page as he spoke. We were making progress. Then, you review what you wrote and come up with an outline. You make a guess at where you want this piece of writing to go.
At that point I got stuck. Where was this short paragraph of his going? How did I think he should organize it? It was uncomfortable. Uncertain. There wasn’t a right answer. I started to have compassion for him thinking that this small paragraph was impossible. Maybe it was impossible!
Then I remembered, this is how writing feels. This is part of the process of writing. This feeling of having no idea what’s going to happen next or what the best step to take is, it’s all just part of the process. This is the point where I used to stop. Through experience I've learned that feeling uncomfortable is just a sign I am doing something that I haven’t done before.
I just need to take a step. Any step at all.
So I guessed. I suggested we split the paragraph into pros and cons and he agreed. It worked well enough. Then I started moving the pieces of writing we had created during brainstorming into their appropriate place in the outline. It wasn’t a literary work of art but it was slowly coming together. We changed the tense and added in some joining sentences for flow. We deleted the two original outline sentences and it was done.
I reflected to him after we had finished, “See, that wasn’t so bad. Definitely not impossible,” but I knew that I had also had that feeling of impossibility.
I've just learned how to do things that feel impossible. I've learned to move from knowing into doing.