Start Small

If you’re struggling to get a foothold on your New Year’s resolutions this month, then let me tell you how I’m tackling my projects.  It might seem ridiculous, especially when you have a deadline you’re trying to reach, but I’m hoping that it’ll payoff. 

This article about kazien and goal-setting gave me the inspiration. 

Kaizen is a Japanese word that basically means continuous but very small change. This idea can really increase the momentum needed for habit change, because it works up to change gradually.

I’ve talked about getting up “Dark & Early” before.  With three kids and a full-time job, it’s hard to find time to write during the day or evening.  It’s even harder to get up an hour (or more) earlier in the cold, wintery months too.  The last thing I want to do is crawl out of my nice toasty bed!  (Did I mention that I adore the down comforter MIL gave us two Christmases ago?)  I know that I need to get up early to get as much done as possible before the day explodes in my face, but I’ve just been so tired.  I can’t.

I can’t get up at 5:30 or 5:00.  But I can get up at 5:45.

About two weeks ago, I started setting my clock a few minutes earlier than usual.  I’m doing everything I can the night before to make sure that once I’m up, I don’t have much to do.  e.g. I’m not wasting time washing the coffee pot — I’m getting a cup and heading straight downstairs.  I don’t have a ton of writing time by any means, but it IS time and I AM up.  This morning, I woke up before the alarm went off.

Next week I’m hoping to back my clock up again to 5:30.  By March — typically a pretty big month for me — I’m hoping to be up by 5:00 am.

This works for writing too.  I’ve been stalled this month by angst.  Even good news of a sale can stall me, because my mind immediately jumps forward to website changes, edits, promo.  Not writing.  The kaizen approach can work here too.  Instead of saying “I have to write 1K today!”  I’m starting with 200 words.  Yes, that’s it.  The first day this week, that’s all I got.

But the next day I got 400 words.

Today, another 400-500 words.

Eventually, I’ll reach the tipping point in the story where my writing muscles will be loose and the story will unfold in my brain faster than my fingers can keep up.  I need that slow, steady rise to build momentum.  Even if it takes the rest of this month, I’m allowing myself to settle for a couple of hundred words a day, as long as I’m working.

I know full well that I’m capable of thousands a day when my mind is ready.  The words will come. 

Another reason I’m settling for a smaller word count right now:  I’m exercising during the day.  Yes, that cuts into my writing time.  Instead of writing during my lunch, I’m exercising instead.  That does add up over the week, negatively impacting how much I can get done.  That’s okay, though, because I know eventually I’ll reach a tipping point there, too.  The exercise will make me feel better, relieve stress, and I’ll be fresher and more healthy when I do sit down to get my words.

That’s the plan, at least.  :-) 

7 thoughts on “Start Small

  1. Kaizen. Good word!

    It sounds like you and I are facing similar challenges; I’m trying to just make sure I do something writing-related every day, which is the bare minimum goal I was able to think of to just get my momentum going again. So I’m over here cheering you on too. :)

  2. I love the tenets of Japanese discipline. The ultimate goal is perfection of all movement and energy. Nothing wasted. But you don’t get that the first day.

    I think I needed this post, Sis. And I think I’ll start my kaizen outlook by finding a way to cram my computer desk into my room so I can actually use it!

  3. I can certainly relate to this. I’ve been having trouble getting back into the writing groove after my release, promo, the holidays and the crazy EDJ. I made new years resolutions to get three pages done a day, which at the time sounded easy but has turned out to be very hard. But just like you I’m working my way slowly to it. Last week I only managed to meet the goal twice. So far this week I’ve hit it every day. I just keep reminding myself any progress is good progress.

    We’re all routing for you. Keep up wiht those baby steps and eventually you’ll walk a mile.

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