The Smallest of All Steps

Happy New Year, friends! I think the world in general has had quite enough of 2016. Here’s hoping for better things in 2017.

On a personal writerly level, I had a very mixed year. I released my first published novel (co-authored with Kit), which was amazing, and then dove into a months-long promotional campaign for it, which was interesting and educational and sometimes fun, but not so amazing. (Except the two book launches. Those were pretty neat.) One of my co-workers at the day job bought my book recently, and today she walked past and waved it at me with a bookmark in it. That was also pretty neat.

But the promo campaign has been over for months, and I’ve written almost nothing since.

You may or may not be a writer, but I’m sure you know this about habits: if you let them drop, the longer you’ve been away from them, the harder it is to pick them up again. They start to feel big and scary and insurmountable.

I’ve fallen into that trap before. For months. And writer who are not writing? Not the most pleasant people to be around, let me tell you. For starters, they tend to mope around and complain of existential angst, while their family members (and sometimes, the writers themselves) wonder why they can’t be content with normal diversions and enjoyable things like regular people, or alternatively, how it can be so hard to make stuff up with one’s brain. *ahem*

But 2017 is a new year. Here’s what I’m trying: writing the smallest possible thing.

My goal right now is to write something every day. No pressure–if I skip a day, I’ll just get back on the wagon the next day. No minimum word count. It doesn’t have to be fiction. Blogging counts (hi!). I’ve been writing a lot of haikus, although to be fair, I aim for three per day, not one. I’m poking at a story-world, and I’ve resurrected my other blog. The things I’m writing aren’t exactly stories yet, but they’re getting closer, and right now, that’s enough.

And I haven’t missed a day since December 31.

This idea isn’t mine, of course. Here are some resources for starting very very small:

  • The excellent blog Zen Habits has another take on building habits, or see this post about daily writing.
  • For building housework-related habits, you might like FlyLady (I bounced off her eventually, but I was subscribed to her email list for quite a while and still use some of the things I learned. The concept of baby steps was one of the, er, biggest.) …
  • … or maybe Unf*ck Your Habitat is more your style (and hey, there’s a brand-new book, too)

How about you? What makes a resolution or a goal a success for you? Any tiny habits you’re trying to build, writerly or otherwise? Comment here and we’ll cheer you on!

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