Progress in Small Steps

Small? Or tiny? Tiny might be a better fit. :D

If you want to know what I’m talking about, I’m talking about what I mentioned yesterday evening, when I was planning out how I could push myself to write more without sabotaging my current mini habit or stall my daily writing streak.

I might have found the way. :D

I’m very happy with the progress of my habit building. I don’t want to mess it up, and I knew anything I came up with had to work with those mini habits I’m working on.

Yesterday, I read an newsletter article about levers, small steps, and what to do when you don’t know what to do next.

I had a realization that maybe my writing is stalled because I don’t know what to do next (I’m sure there’s more to it, but this is quite likely a major contributing factor, considering I’m at decision point in every one of the four stories I’ve been working on and I’m having trouble getting started on any one of them.)

The author suggested writing it out until you do know what to do. So I did. My novella seems to be benefiting from this most at the moment, because that’s the story that’s on my mind.

But what stuck with me yesterday when I read the article was the idea that I needed to find a way to encourage myself to write more without putting any real pressure on myself. I read this article while I was exercising, by the way, and that was probably the missing piece that coalesced later into the idea I ended up going with.

Yesterday I wasn’t feeling well. But I knew I needed to at least get on my bike and pedal for a minute so I wouldn’t derail my exercise habit. I really didn’t feel like doing it, and I was positive I was going to get on the bike, pedal for a minute and then stop. I had enough willpower to at least do that.

And yet, what happened was that once I was on the bike, I couldn’t see the sense in getting off before I read that article, and then I couldn’t see the sense in getting off before I hit 15 minutes because I was so close to 15 minutes, and then 16, then 17, then 19. I got off at 21 minutes.

This has happened before, often enough that I’ve mentioned it to other people. I am now positive that, for me, getting started is THE most difficult part of anything I do. I believe this is the single biggest challenge I face, and I feel like I’ve finally figured out a way to tackle that.

I decided I needed to take some really small steps toward writing more, and hope that my internal motivation for writing would kick once I got started. So as I mentioned yesterday, I set 5 minute writing sessions, with time triggers.

All I have to do is 5 minutes of writing. If I want to wander off after that, then I can, and that’s perfectly okay. I’ll still end up with 35 minutes of writing at the end of the day, and that’s probably going to be more than I’d end up with otherwise. And I’m hoping it will train me to get to the computer more often and just get started.

So during my first 5 minutes this morning, I wrote about my story and what should come next. That helped a lot, to be honest. Then during my next 5 minutes (which turned into 9) I wrote on the story. In the next 5 minutes (which turned into 21), I edited some earlier parts and deleted some stuff, and I think I know where to take this story to end it.

See the progress? This is awesome! I’ve already got over 30 minutes of writing in today and I still have 4 5 minutes sessions planned. I really think there’s something to this… :D

And I feel really good today. That’s nice too. :D