The Benefit of Small Steps / by Matthew Marchitto

One foot in front of the other, inch by inch, slowly getting closer to that goal post you’ve set. But does it matter how fast you get there, or just that you eventually get there? I don’t know, I guess it’s different for everyone. For me, I think there’s a lot of benefit to valuing the small steps, because each of those small steps push you forward, and if you’re moving forward then you’ll eventually get to that goal.

That’s my approach to writing. I write at least a little bit every day. I try to do more, sometimes it’s upwards of 1000 words, sometimes it’s only 300, but I still make sure to do some. Each day I set down some words, even if they’re only 100 of them, that means the next day I’m 100 words ahead. 

For a while I thought I could put it off and make up the word count in a weekend of whirlwind writing. I’ve heard of some people that can do that, and all the power to you, but I can’t. It becomes a crutch for me, an excuse to say “oh I’ll do later,” until it becomes too much to get done in that weekend and I find myself overwhelmed, unmotivated, and resentful.

I rarely feel that way with small steps. Each step, as tiny and insignificant as it might seem, brings the goalpost closer. And knowing that I’ve gotten closer that day, even if it’s only a little bit, feels better than putting it off for one giant leap two months from now that could result in a skull shattering faceplant. It’s like trying to jump up a staircase instead of taking each step at a time. 

Is it possible to go to slow? Probably. For all I know, maybe I am going too slow. But I’d rather make slow and steady progress, being able to deal with problems one at a time, instead of leaping headfirst into the fire and oh my god there are alligator sharks in here why are there alligator sharks in the fire pit!?!? 

Consistency is most important. I don’t think resigning yourself to go slow means that you can be inconsistent. My Write Every Day rule is ironclad. It’s etched in the bone of my spine. Write. Every. Day. No matter what. That consistency will remind you that you’re always making progress. 100 words is always better than no words. And if you want to have that whirlwind weekend? Well, you can still do it, but you’ll be 100 words ahead instead of no-words ahead. 

Daily goals are important too. Just like how using slow and steady as an excuse to be inconsistent, it can also be used to diminish goals. You should be glad you got those 100 words down, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t keep aiming to reach 1000 words.

Each step should try to be bigger than the last, just a little bit. There will be setbacks, sometimes you might try to go too fast and faceplant gloriously, sometimes you might go to slow, but as long as you keep going you’ll get to the top of that staircase eventually.