Friday, September 6, 2013

Life Lessons—When You Can't See the Staircase

by Reba J. Hoffman, Ph.D.

As a writer, it’s rare you ever see the staircase. In fact, sometimes you could not verify that a staircase even exists. That’s a pretty scary place to be walking on your journey down the writing road.

And, as we writers tend to do, we don’t take a step forward because we can’t see where the journey ends. After all, why bother to start the climb if you don’t know how many steps that will come after that and where the climb will end, right?

While that may make sense on some level, it won’t get you where you want to be as a writer. Why? Authorship isn’t a destination. It’s an adventurous journey that you won’t take unless you take the step.

So what should you do? By a spotlight to illuminate the staircase? You could, but there’s a danger in that. You may not yet be ready to take those steps farther up. It could scare you into retreat, and your book will never get written.

So what would I recommend? Dr. Martin Luther King said it best:

Take the first step in faith. You don’t have to see the whole 
staircase, just take the first step.

There is no way we will see the end from the beginning, in our life or in our manuscript. We may have dreams, plans, an outline. But life and stories have twists and turns we don’t know about.

I know many future best-selling authors who haven’t written a single chapter. Why? They walked away from the first step because they couldn’t see the entire staircase. I find that sad for two reasons:
  1. If that is their requirement to start their journey, the world will forever be devoid of their wonderful books.
  2. Some of the most amazing blessings come by something we don’t see coming.

In the old days when people had to climb stairs using a lantern, they were never able to see all the steps. They would just put the lantern in front of them, take a step, move the light forward and repeat the process. They would safely ascend to the next level.

So should you. When one step is illuminated, take that step. The next one will appear. Trust me on this. When you can’t see the staircase, just move forward to the step you see.

You will be amazed at what appears in your life and career as a writer when you do this. Come on up! It’s beautiful at the top!

What step do you see right now? Have you taken it? Why or why not? Share it here!

Reba J. Hoffman is the founder and president of Magellan Life Coaching ( She holds a Ph.D. in Clinical Counseling and is a natural encourager. She serves as Member Care Coach for My Book Therapy and is the author of Dare to Dream, A Writer’s Journal. You can connect with Reba through her motivational blog, Finding True North, or by email at You can also follow her on Twitter at @MagellanCoach.


  1. I have to shuffle off to work here in a minute but this blog post reminded me of the Abominable Snowman cartoon when he was singing with Kris Kringle, "Put one step in front of the other." I do get very timid to take the next step because sometimes I don't know what the next step is. Thanks for the post.

  2. Thanks for stopping by First... and for sharing your timidity about taking the next step.

  3. I love your point that even when we think we want to see the entire staircase, there may be things that would scare us and it's best not to see it just yet...true in writing and life. Thanks for this encouragement!

  4. You're welcome Lynn. Thanks so much for stopping by!

  5. Thanks for this encouragement: "When one step is illuminated, take that step. The next one will appear. Trust me on this. When you can’t see the staircase, just move forward to the step you see".

    God is teaching me the value of taking things one step at a time.