I still remember the spring day years ago when I pulled up to the equestrian center where we boarded our flashy Belgian Draft horse. My two daughters scrambled out of the car and rushed to their riding lesson. The girls rode Hunter Jumper, complete with an English saddle, tight breeches and tall black boots.
I watched them post as the horses trotted around the ring. During each lesson, they gathered their horses into a jump, sailing over white fences. Looking down the course today, I saw that the next fence was taller than they’d ever jumped. Heart in my throat, I watched as my youngest daughter prepared her horse.
“Don’t forget what I’ve taught you,” her instructor called. “Don’t look at the fence. Keep your eyes on the other side.”
She cleared the jump like a pro. “Way to go, Lauren!” I shouted and clapped.
A few minutes later, my elder daughter, Heather, cleared the same jump.
Some days I wished my girls had waited until they were at least old enough to drive a car before sitting on two-thousand pounds of horse and flying over jumps. They weren’t the let’s-wait-until-we’re-older type kids. They’d both come out of the womb crying, “Horse!” They’d begged for riding lessons before they learned to read.
As I watched the rest of the lesson, my mind wandered to the mess on my desk. I’d agreed to ghostwrite a book for a man who’d sent me pages and pages of material. All of which I’d been sifting through, separating out what I thought I could use.
I knew when I got to the actual writing, I would be in heaven. It was wrestling all that information into something that I could use that I disliked with a passion. I’d caught myself doing anything except that.
My phone rang and I slipped away to take the call. It was Gina, my good friend and writing mentor. For years, Gina and her family of five had lived here in Edmond, Oklahoma. Then the unexpected happened. Her husband’s company transferred him to Colorado.
Gina had to help all three of her children leave their schools and friends. She had to pack up their life and put their home on the market. She had to fly to Colorado to find a house there. She had to schedule the movers and tell her friends goodbye.
All the while, as editor of a magazine, she had to oversee getting all the articles written, including the ones she wrote. The magazine had to be edited, laid out with photography and sent to the printer on schedule.
If that weren’t enough, she had a book deadline that fell right in the middle of the move. I would have begged for more time, but she refused. This was the first time she’d called since they arrived in Colorado.
“I’ve got news!” Gina said with a smile in her voice.
“I finished the book and met my deadline!”
Stunned speechless, I stood there with my mouth hanging open.
“How?” I managed to ask.
“It was the coolest thing,” she said. “I was overwhelmed with the project when the Lord asked me what I saw when I closed my eyes and thought about the book. What I saw was a huge pile of papers on my desk.
“He said that was my problem. He told me to close my eyes, relax and picture the book finished. I did that until I got that picture down in my heart. The most amazing thing happened. The book almost wrote itself.”
I glanced in the ring at my daughters still taking jumps. I thought about the instructor telling them not to look at the fence. It was the same concept Gina had used. She stopped looking at the obstacle and focus on the other side of the jump, which in this case was a finished book.
The next day, I sat in my office and closed my eyes. Instead of focusing on the huge obstacle of work ahead of me, I visualized the book finished. I imagined a stunning cover and one very happy client. Instead of a dreaded task, it became my happy place.
Whenever I get bogged down on a writing project, I realize that I’ve let myself focus on the obstacle instead of the result.
When you find yourself frustrated in front of an impossible project, I urge you to stop and take a deep breath. Refocus your vision on the far side of the fence. You’ll fly over those obstacles and have fun in the process.