Slow Progress is better than No Progress by Matthew Marchitto

What? I’m not updating my blog to avoid working on my current WIP, you’re updating my blog to avoid working on my current WIP.

Um, er, anyway.

I’ve always valued the slow and steady approach. Doing a little bit here and there adds up over time, and I try to apply this to my writing. Sometimes hitting word counts can feel like grinding stones. During these lull periods, I tell myself that it’s okay to do a little. Even just 100 words, because by the end of the week I’ll be 700 words ahead than if I’d done nothing. This has worked for me, allowing me to make slow and steady progress even during those low periods.

But sometimes, sometimes, this turns into an excuse. It’s fine to be at a low point, and it’s fine for that low point to last as long as it needs to. But eventually we’ve got to start crawling our way out. This is different for everyone, there’s no universal answer and anyone who tells you otherwise is trying to sell you something. I can only tell you what works for me, and hope it helps.

Carving out a dedicated writing time helps me immensely. Every day at whatever-O’clock I’ll commit to sit down and write. Plus, I’ll give myself an increased word goal, nothing too far out, but something within reach. And over time I try to slowly increase it. Usually, these two things together help get me back on track. Whenever my word count suffers, it’s almost always accompanied by a frantic hyper-focused worry about This Month’s Negative Thing. And my writing schedule during these times fluctuates, chores and everything else seemingly rising in priority.

That’s when I get in the Writing Vault and shut the door. Carve out that time with an iron will. Setup turrets that will pelt any intruder with a fusillade of nerf darts. No one can withstand a nerf dart barrage. The routine gets me back on track, it becomes like brushing your teeth. Just another thing you’ve got to do, otherwise ick.

That’s what helps me. Maybe it’ll help you, or maybe it won’t. Everyone’s process is different, but I hope this can at least point you in the right direction.

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.

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Making Mistakes and Moving Forward by Matthew Marchitto

I'm still pretty new to this self-publishing thing, but I've already made a couple mistakes that I don’t plan on repeating. That’s part of the process, stumbling and bumbling forward not knowing what the hell is going on while everyone is screaming.

There are some smaller mistakes that feel more like little bumbles here and there. One is trying to figure out what an “online presence” is and how to manage it. Another is not sticking to schedules or getting distracted and jumping from project to project and never actually finishing anything. 

But the biggest one must have been the botched release of Moon Breaker. It was a little over a year ago, and although I’m still proud of the story and the world (and would like to revisit it) I still messed up pretty bad. I thought I could edit it myself, which proved to be completely wrong. You can imagine the soul crushing debilitation that squeezed my nethers when the first review said Moon Breaker had “poor english.” 

Unfortunately, it was pretty true. My brain seems programmed to ignore errors. There are times when I reread a sentence multiple times and in my head its fine, but the next day I realize its fuel orf teepos ad earors hwo culd eye msis tehm.  

After getting in contact with an editor and sorting out the manuscript it felt like the damage was already done. The version now doesn't have the same errors the original did but the whole thing is pretty much dead in the water. 

I’d be lying if I said it didn't put me in a funk for a while. There was no one else to blame but myself. I knew it. But being the brain frazzled self-critical anti-me goblin that I am, I let it crawl way too deep into the part of my brain that runs the Keep Moving Forward You Dope processor. 

During that time I wrote the first draft of a novel. And it helped. Even in the funk I still kept to writing daily, even if my word count suffered. Looking back, it doesn’t feel like wasted time and I plan on polishing up that novel sometime soon. But while I was writing it I had the idea for the fantasy novella series the Investigative Privateers. 

I have no idea if the first one is going to be any good. I’m probably supposed to act like an infallible creative God-Thing that has utter confidence in all my creations and will never ever mess up. Well, I’m not confident in my stories. Probably because I’m not confident in anything I do. I can’t bake pre-made cookies without convincing myself I’ve messed up.

And sometimes I have to be reminded that just showing up is enough. The anti-me goblin is always picking and prying at the back of my brain, trying to dig up any excuse to stop. To find any reason to justify that “you’re not good enough” or that “you should give up.” Remembering that all you have to do is show up can really help. I’ve found that sitting in front of the computer and just starting a sentence, even if I have no idea where it’s going, helps open up the floodgates. Once you make the first little crack, the rest will come surging forward because it wants out and you’ve given it an opening.   

The above post by Ksenia Anske (who is awesome and you should all go follow) popped up at just the right time. The anti-me goblin was working a particularly juicy node of self-doubt when I was smacked in the face by the image of a bird wearing a tiny hat saying “don’t fucking stop.” (I'm paraphrasing.)   

So I won’t stop. I’ll keep showing up. And do the best I can. And take it seriously. That is one thing that’s important. Taking it seriously and caring about it. 

And to keep moving forward no matter what. So that’s what I’m going to do. I invite you to watch me bumble through this weird and exciting process. 

I'm going to go bake some cookies (and try not to set anything on fire).