If you’re at this stage, you should have already set your writing goal and asked yourself these six questions about the challenge you’ve set yourself. Great progress! Now you need to set your first step towards reaching that goal.
But what makes a step a step and not a goal?
As a rule of thumb, try to think of a step as being like a tiny breakthrough on the way to meeting your overall goal (the big win) and any writer knows that you need those daily milestones to keep you motivated and moving forward.
When you’re at this stage, don’t worry if you’re not clear about every step you need to make – just start with the first step and move on from there.
Before you more on, focus on: the first small thing you can do to take your writing forward, and then ask yourself these four questions:
1. Is it a quick win?
The golden rule of setting a step as opposed to a goal is that you need to feel it’s achievable quickly. Where you might not feel 100% confident you can meet your overall goal (and that’s a good thing because it keeps you moving forward) you need to be pretty sure that you can achieve a step in the time you’ve given yourself.
2. Is it really small?
If you’re not sure you can comfortably achieve your step then make it smaller. Setting small steps doesn’t mean you’re not trying hard enough or that you’re wimping out. Research proves again and again that progressing towards your goal one small step at a time is the best method to achieve your larger goal. If you’re intimidated by your first step you’ll struggle to achieve it so make it smaller.
3. Is it specific as you can make it?
Similarly with goals, steps work the best when you know you’ve achieved them – and that means they need to be quantifiable in some way. ‘Write more today’ isn’t something you can measure. ‘Write 100 words more than yesterday’ or ‘write for 30 mins before breakfast’ is specific and can be ticked off your list once you’ve achieved it. This is important because the act of ‘ticking off’ a step will keep you motivated to move forward towards your goal.
4. Does it contribute to your goal?
Whilst at the beginning, you certainly don’t need to have every step nailed down, it’s always a good idea to check back and see if your steps are heading in the right direction. As with goal setting, don’t worry if your steps are taking you off on a tangent (it’s sometimes good to go with the flow) but understand why they’re taking you there and what you can learn the next time you set a goal.