The Art of Starting Small

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If you want to write but don’t know where to start, it’s best to begin by breaking things up into smaller pieces. Having a 5,000 words a day goal and the ambition to write a 100k-word novel are great, but these goals are so huge that you can get lost in them.

Don’t think that this post is just for new writers. If you’ve been feeling stuck or trapped in fear like we talked about on Monday, these tips on how to write slowly but steadily will you help you, too. Or maybe you’ve found yourself unable to reach your writing goals and need a new start.

You’ve come to the right place – and here’s how it works:

1. Small daily word count goal

A daily word count goal is a great way to motivate yourself to write a little bit every day. (I do suggest taking one day off per week, however. I think rest is really important for writers; without any breaks, it’s easy to get burned out.)

But, contrary to many popular beliefs, your daily word count doesn’t have to be huge. In fact, you can begin with as little as 100 words a day and then move up from there based on how much you’re able to write. 100 words a day might seem ridiculously small, but it adds up – and it’s better than writing 1,000 words only sometimes.

As long as you can reach it consistently, it doesn’t matter how small the word count goal is. You’re still writing every day.

2. Try short stories

Writing a book is an ambitious undertaking. While you can dive right in and do it, I suggest getting writing experience in a low-stakes environment first.

You guessed it: short stories, or even flash fiction!

While penning these shorter works, you’re still writing stories and learning about writing, but the payoff and feedback are more immediate. These will help you to grow quickly and encourage you as you continue writing.

3. Write shorter books

A 100k-word book is a lofty goal, and probably not the best first book project. After you’ve worked on your short stories, you can move on to writing a book – but a shorter one.

This is why I love NaNoWriMo. This little “competition” challenges you to write a 50k-word novel in a month, and by the end of it, you might actually have a whole book!

NaNoWriMo is next month, and it’s loads of fun! It does require you to write just shy of 2,000 words per day, so it’s a commitment, but there are absolutely no downsides. Even if you’re unable to complete the whole book, you still have your idea and at least some of it written down.

You can sign up for NaNoWriMo for free here!

4. Write for shorter chunks of time

Writers tell stories of sitting at their computers for hours, typing away and writing thousands of words at a time. It may sound nice, but it’s not a good place to start.

Dial it back to about 15-minute writing sessions with breaks in between and do as many as your schedule allows. Funnily enough, you may write more that way than the person writing for hours at a time.

5. Small victories are still victories

Just because you’re breaking things up into smaller pieces doesn’t mean you’re slow or less capable. In fact, it’s a very smart thing to do. Writers may brag about their huge word count, but you can brag about your consistency. Making a little progress every day is better than making a lot of progress occasionally.

Don’t be afraid to think smart and start small.

Happy writing!

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Photo by Daniel K Cheung on Unsplash

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When you write as much as I do, you have to take frequent breaks from sitting. A standing desk (not a whole desk, but a mini desk that will sit on top of my current desk with my laptop, keyboard, and mouse and extend upward) will allow me to continue working while maintaining that good blood flow to my brain. Thank you so much for your support that allows me to keep producing free content. God bless you! ♥️ E.J.


2 thoughts on “The Art of Starting Small

  1. Love this. So many people are quick to discard ‘small’ efforts, but these are the very efforts that could lead to big things. For me, at least, small steps work better wonders than taking big leaps off the bat. So thanks for making this message known!

    Liked by 1 person

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