When You Can’t See the Trees for the Forest

That’s right, I wrote what I wrote. The expression goes the other way around. Except my problem is that I become overwhelmed by the big picture, and that makes it harder for me to focus on the details. I can’t see the trees for the forest.

What does this mean, practically? As a writer, it means creating a reasonably detailed outline for every project. It means setting a daily word or page count goal. When I sit down to write, I’m not starting down the massive, abstract concept of writing a book. I know what needs to be written next, and how much I need to get done.

As a minimalist, it ought to be clear. Get rid of the mass of clutter, eliminate unnecessary tasks, clear out anything that you don’t need. This is an imperfect metaphor, because it implies thinning out the forest and cutting down trees. The thing is, here in Finland they do that. No, they don’t rake the floor of the forest. But they periodically go through and find old trees, weather-damaged trees, and places where too many saplings are sprouting up. They tag trees to be eliminated, for the overall health of the forest. Then loggers come in, remove them, and they become paper products.

As a spoonie, it’s why I keep a bullet journal. Breaking tasks into steps, and scheduling them, keeps me from becoming overwhelmed. I don’t need to worry about tomorrow, next week, or next month. All I need to concern myself with is what has to be done today. Care for one tree at a time, and the forest will take care of itself.

When You Can’t See the Trees for the Forest

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About Berin Kinsman

Berin Kinsman is a writer, game designer, and owner/publisher at Dancing Lights Press. An American by accident of birth, he currently lives in Finland with his wife, artist Katie Kinsman.

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