Itty Bitty Baby Steps

Hey folks.  I bet you were hoping I wouldn’t show my face until next Monday.  You’re outta luck, though, ‘cuz here I am.

A few weeks ago, I joined something called the Life List Club.  Part of this rodeo is that I’ll host guest blogger twice a month.  In return, some unlucky soul has to host me.  If you’re game, check out my guest post on Diana Ligaya’s blog.

Without further ado, here’s Sonia G. Medeiros to take away the show.

Itty Bitty Baby Steps

Sail around the world. Climb Mt Everest. Lose 30 (or 40 or 50 or 100) lbs. Eat a 10lb burrito slathered in ghost pepper hot sauce. Write a novel.

All huge undertakings.

Okay…maybe writing a novel isn’t quite the same feat as the others…but it sure feels like it sometimes. Sometimes it feels bigger than that because we have to invent something that’s never existed before, our story.

Any big task or change can feel like trying to climb a mountain. We might stand at the base, look up at the vast distance between where we are and where we need to be, and just freak out.

But…maybe, just maybe, there’s a better way.

We could take that (apocalyptically) huge endeavor and break it down into smaller tasks. Then we could take those smaller tasks and break them down into even smaller tasks. Heck…we could go all the way to the subatomic level (but that’s where things start to get fuzzy).

I like to call this

(drum roll, please)

The Baby Steps Technique.


Okay, so that’s not such a revolutionary idea.

Still, it can put those seemingly out of reach goals right in the palms of our hands. All we have to do is commit to our plan, start small, and keep building.

Have to start exercising? Why not start with 5 minutes a day? Gotta cut a few hundred calories a day? Why not start with 25? Want to hold your breath for 5+ minutes? Why not start with 15-30 seconds? Need to write 3-4k words per day? Why not start with 50-100 (or even 5-10)?

And, once you get started, a funny thing happens…you just keep going. You hit your goal, then pass it up and pat yourself on the back. The next day, you come back for more. And on the days when you really, really, really, really don’t feel like it…you just tell yourself that all you have to do is 5 minutes, 50 words, or cut 25 calories. If that’s all you do, you’ve still hit your goal and you don’t have to beat yourself up for backsliding.

Robin Simonds Fitch, who commented on a recent ROW80 check in, whacked the mole right between the ears when she said, “I’ve found it’s a lot easier to make progress if I’m excited because I’m exceeding my goals than if I’m flogging myself for underperforming.”

Kinda sneaky. But effective.

That’s exactly what I’m doing now for my Life List Club and ROW80 writing goals. Ideally, I’d like to be writing 3000+ words per day (in addition to 3 blog posts a week). At the moment, that number seems like Mt Everest. I know I can get there, but I have to work up to it. So, I stared with a much smaller daily word count: 250 words (a mark I knew I could hit even on rough days).

Each time I passed 250 words in a writing session, I cheered for myself. And that motivated me to come back the next day, excited to write. The more excited I was to write, the more I wrote.

A delicious circle instead of a vicious one.

I’ve had some hard days still…days when I was sorely tempted to blow off the writing (get thee behind me, Resistance). But that unassuming little goal looked up at me with big brown eyes and I melted. Oh alright…it’s just 250 words after all.

This week, I’ve increased my word count goal to 500 words. Although I’ve been able to write more than that on a daily basis (not counting blog posts), I wanted to take it easy. Part of the trick of the Baby Steps Technique is the lure of the little goal. As I get comfortable with each level, I’ll bump it up to the next. Until I’m cruising along at 3000+ words a day.

No problem. 😉

How do you tackle something huge?Any tips or war stories to share? Any big projects looming?

Sonia G Medeiros is a writer of fantasy, science fiction, and horror. She’s the author of more than a dozen short stories and flash fiction pieces, blogs at WordPress, and is working on her first novel, a dark fantasy. When she’s not wandering along the tangled paths of her wild imagination, she wrangles home life with one fabulous husband, two amazing, homeschooled children, four goldfish, three dogs, one frog and one cat who considers himself lord of the manor.

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