Discipline,  Inspiration,  Self Talk

How To Make Small Goals Work For You


This post is for you if you have any of the following:

1) A schedule that is so busy that you barely have time to go to the bathroom.

2) A belief that the only way to accomplish writing goals is to have hours and hours of uninterrupted time to yourself.

3) A vision that real writers have offices with lockable doors or lonely cabins in the woods or private islands or other extreme workspace.

As much as you’d like to think you can shoot for the moon, I think that the moon, as beautiful and romantic as it is, isn’t even a little bit possible. At least for right now. It could be that in the season your life is in, to be a writer, we need to start small, we need to have low expectations. We need to just get out of bed. 

When I decided I wanted to write. I started small too. In spite of the fact that I had five children, all eight years old and under, and I was homeschooling them, and we lived in a tiny house, I would do my very best to write for ten minutes a day.

It looked like this: I set the timer on my microwave for ten minutes and then wrote. Once the timer went off, I reset it and emptied the dishwasher or folded a load of laundry or started a meal. I also checked on the children and made sure no one was bleeding. Once that timer went off, if I could, I went back to the computer and got a few sentences out. (Woe to the child who interrupted me while I wrote!)  I did this all afternoon and somehow, everything got done. 

I developed this system because I wanted to do it all. I wanted to give all to my family and pursue my writing dreams.  If I set my timer six times, I would have written for an hour. I believed that something was better than nothing, that this new discipline would pay off somehow, and I would be satisfied with this low expectation. 

And it worked! Eight years later, I’ve written three novels, blogged for six years, wrote countless articles, got my first contract, signed with an agency and now I have big plans for more. I don’t know if I’ve landed on the moon just yet, but I’m a heck of a lot closer than I was. I’m so glad I found the time to pursue my dreams, even when it didn’t seem possible.

Will this work for you? Try it!

1. Set your timer for ten minutes and write to me about why you can’t do this. Don’t stop typing. When the timer dings, look at how many words you wrote. It’s probably over 400.

2. Now write about what you want to be, what type of books you want to be known for, what your biggest passions are. When you’re done, remind yourself of these things that will make you happy.

3. Write for ten minutes on how you can restructure your day so that you can find more pockets of time.  Communicate this need to your family and other obligations so that you can meet your goal. Can you have more than one ten minute session a day? Over the next week, challenge yourself to get in more. If you can’t, don’t worry too much about it.

I’d like to suggest that while you may be busy, you can still accomplish much in very small increments of time, even if it means working at your kitchen table.

I also believe that if you have big writing goals you’ll never accomplish them if you wait for the perfect schedule, the perfect uninterrupted session or the perfect workspace.

Katharine Grubb is an author, poet, homeschooling mother, camping enthusiast, bread-baker, and believer in working in small increments of time. She leads 10 Minute Novelists, an international Facebook group of time-crunched writers. She lives with her family in Massachusetts.