Inspiration from Michael Gallant:
In order to be more productive, it is important to break down your writing process into a series of smaller jobs.
My recent column “One Single Question To Ask When Self-Editing” discussed how to simplify your writing self-review method to a simple binary question. Now, I’d want to share a similar, yet more effective, approach that has enabled me to take on more challenging tasks while also expanding my creative options.
“What is one more thing I can do to assist this piece of writing?” is a question I ask myself often, whether I’m putting together an initial concept or refining a final edit. Despite its simplicity, this method has been shown time and time again to be highly successful.
I modified my writing style after reading about ultra-distance runner Coree Woltering’s three-week stretch of running over fifty kilometers every day.
How did I do it?
In order to pull off a performance like this, how did he manage? I am really excellent at breaking things down into little steps and making micro-goals, Woltering told the New York Times.. If you want to get better at running, Woltering recommends breaking up the work into ten-second parts and repeating this strategy until you reach your goal. According to the story, he has been known to spend hours upon hours counting backwards from 10.
It may not be ideal to count to 10 while writing, but a similar micro-goal technique can help you succeed. Woltering’s example of chipping away at enormous undertakings by setting and completing many smaller tasks along the way is what I follow when I ask myself regularly to think of one next thing I can do to assist my writing.
If you want to improve your own writing, no matter what genre or format it is in, consider establishing micro-goals and focusing on one next step. As you experiment with this method, here are some things to bear in mind.
It’s the little things that build up to a big difference.
Occasionally, when I sit down to write, all I can think of is coming up with a catchier title or opening phrase. Most of my time is spent tidying up footnotes, thinking of better adjectives or adverbs for a paragraph, double-checking facts, or editing my word processor document’s space and font.
When contrasted to the total job of producing a piece of writing, these stages might feel like a pittance. To be sure, every micro-progress I make is rooted in the larger objective of producing an impressive and impactful piece of writing. Even though micro-tasks seem little at the moment, they must all be accomplished before a work is considered finished. I get a sense of accomplishment knowing that I’m making progress on my project every time I do a small micro-task whenever I have the time and ability to do so.
The micro-goals I’ve accomplished throughout the years have made me feel as Woltering feels when he’s finished counting to ten a thousand times.
The power of momentum is on your side.
Getting started might be a challenge, but gaining momentum is a lot less difficult. So asking oneself what the next step is may be a valuable tool for progressing forward. Making a practice of thinking about the next small step and then taking it becomes second nature after a few repetitions. Once you’ve found your creative flow, small obstacles and achievements start to stack up and build momentum for your project.
You’ll have less work to do later if you pay attention to the tiniest things.
In order to keep your project moving forward, it’s vital to focus on the one item that will get you there. There are a variety of things you can do to improve your writing, from correcting a sentence’s flow to making sure your paragraph heads and paragraphs are in order.
In any case, consider whether focusing on the next item will make revision and editing easier. If you’ve ever struggled to focus while writing, this can help you finish your first draft faster with fewer mistakes.
The broad picture hasn’t shifted in any way.
Those opposed to micro-goals argue that focusing on the smallest details will cause you to lose sight of the project’s bigger picture. In fact, I’ve found that setting micro-goals helps me see the big picture of a writing assignment.
With every micro-step, I’m at least peeking back at the big picture, because I’m always asking myself what the next step is.
When writing is difficult, especially when nothing else seems to work, I find it liberating to ask myself this question.
It’s my hope that this method will do the same for you in your writing endeavors.