I am not a big fan of New Year’s Resolutions. In fact, I tend to make my annual reassessments around my birthday rather than the First of January…after all, birthdays are technically our personal New Year, right?
Looking back, 2017 was a pretty shit year for me having lost my dog and best friend. So I am happy for the fresh start feeling of 2018. That said, one really positive thing I discovered in 2017 is still going strong for me. Actually it is two concepts working together:
1.) The power of mini-goal momentum
2.) Turning your goals into systems
So really, my noteworthy 2017 discovery is: The momentum of mini-goal-systems.
Eighty-three days ago, I took on the challenge of completing one-mile-a-day for an entire year through a friend’s Facebook group. It doesn’t matter if I run the mile on a treadmill or walk the mile in the neighborhood. I started the challenge by running or walking immediately after work. I am obviously not limited to only one mile per day, but the point is that I have to get one little mile done every day. If I’m walking leisurely, that’s just 18 minutes out of my day. It’s a mini-goal, something simple and quick. Yet in the last 83 days, I’ve logged 102 miles. Prior to this challenge, I might have gone out for a two or three mile hike per week with the best of intentions to do more, but not making the time.
This has led to the realization that implementing the system of getting the small task done every day breeds consistency, momentum, and a volume of work that felt easy to accomplish. The friend that launched the mile-a-day challenge is a fitness coach, and she said she’s never seen such a high percentage of people remain active in a fitness group. It's easier to stay on the bandwagon when the commitment is miniature. There is definitely something to the idea of committing to mini-goals that you can easily achieve daily.
In mid-December, I started reading The Miracle Morning for Writers* (free for Kindle Unlimited members.) Around the same time, I was listening to the StoryGrid Podcast and Tim Grahl offhandedly said "make systems not goals." That little comment really struck a chord with me.
I rescheduled my daily mile (often two miles) for 5am. I then implemented another mini-goal-system, one for writing my book. I write every morning as soon as I get back from my mile, usually from 6am to 7, before getting ready for work. According to Scrivener, I average 837 words per day which is done solely during the 6 to 7am hour. I am on track to complete my 60k word first draft by mid-March.
So while I am still sticking to my No New Year’s Resolutions resolution, I highly encourage you to create mini-goal-systems for anything you want to accomplish.
We all want to lose weight, get in better shape, and write more. What other mini-goals can you implement this year? Let me know in the Facebook Group or by replying to this email. I’d love to hear from you.
Now on to this week's curated content:
- CRAFT: Writing Police Procedurals
This is the best article I’ve read so far on how to write great police procedural fiction: 6 Tips for Writing a Great Police Procedural by author Carrie Smith. You’re already ahead of the research game by belonging to this mailing list and the Facebook Q&A group. You are part of the Facebook group, right?
- CRAFT: Coming to terms with your writing genius
I have not read Elizabeth Gilbert’s Eat, Pray, Love (nor do I plan to, really.) However this Ted Talk she gave is something I think every Creative, Writers especially, should take the time to watch. It’s 18 minutes long, but it is thought provoking.
- STORY: The Second Act Belongs to the Villain
Steven Pressfield, author of The War of Art and The Legend of Bagger Vance, wrote a great blog post about the Second Act of your story belonging to the villain. This post explains what he means by that. I think it is a critical concept to understand and implement to keep the middle build of your story from feeling like a slog that you and your reader need to just get through. Print this one out and keep it next to your computer monitor; it will help you keep from throwing it out the window when you get frustrated with your story.