Start with a Small Step

by LA Bourgeois
published in Writing

Once you have a clear goal in mind, the next moment can be perilous. You might hear a small voice telling you to start with a small step, but often our enthusiasm overwhelms us. All of the ways that you can make your goal happen crowd into your brain like partygoers stuffed into a small apartment.

Your regulars show up pretty quickly with drinks and snacks.

“You could get up super early and write for an hour and a half before work.”

“How about skipping lunch and writing in your car?”

“Stay up late and write until midnight!”

And then, that cute one from across the room sidles up behind you and whispers.

“Ever think about writing All. Weekend. Long?”

And your knees give way as desire overwhelms you. Seduced, you throw yourself at your writing for a day or a week, maybe longer. But then the passion wears off and the fatigue sets in. Before you know it, you’re making excuses for not writing today. How you’ll write twice as long tomorrow, or take the time over the weekend. Never mind grocery shopping and cleaning the house and you promised the kids to go to the zoo on Sunday!

And you start feeling guilty, regretful, wondering if you were ever meant to be a writer at all. After all, if you did WANT to be a writer, wouldn’t you be writing regularly? Wouldn’t you be dedicated to your keyboard instead of your family? Wouldn’t the need to write infuse every part of your being?

Learn What You CAN Do

Ok. Calm down. It’s all good.

Those feelings are natural. We all have them. We all enthuse and wonder and doubt and regret the lost chances.

But it’s not too late.

You just have to learn what you can do. And that starts with one small step followed by another (and another…).

“How can I make my writing happen?” is the right question.

And the answer is to pick a tiny, itty, bitty step.

Something that you can’t possibly NOT achieve. Something that shuffles you in teeny movements toward your goal.

Something that you can repeat each day.

When I confronted my own failings, I decided to write for fifteen minutes a day.

That was it. That was all I asked of myself. That was all I could ask of myself.

Fifteen minutes each weekday. I didn’t even make myself write on weekends. Fifteen minutes a day, five days a week.

Starting with that small step allowed me to make progress because I could do it. Over and over again. That petite success encouraged me to continue on my writing path.

What is a Small Step?

Maybe something springs to mind immediately. You know exactly what you will do! You’ll write a thousand words every day! And you’ll have fifty thousand words in fifty days! A novel in less than two months! Woohoo!!!!

Okay, darlin’. I love the enthusiasm, but how about we dial back a notch? Let’s make a little space for life and work and all of those silly normal things that derail our plans.

By embracing small steps and lowering our expectations, we allow ourselves to be successful. And, that success keeps us on track to reach our goals.

When you say you’ll write a thousand words but only manage 250, failure infuses your body. But when you commit to writing a hundred words a day and manage to get to 250, you have WON LIFE! Not only did you reach your goal, you surpassed it! CHAMPION!

So, how about if we cut that thousand words in half? What about setting a goal of 250 words? Or just a hundred? And what if we change the “day” to “day-ish”?

A successful small step is something that is so easy to do that performing the action is simpler than avoiding it.

If you’ve been away from your story for too long, maybe spend five minutes a day thinking about it. Maybe turn on your computer and look at what you’ve already written. Maybe just turn toward your writing space and look at it for a minute each day.

And, if you find yourself thinking, I can’t possibly make my writing happen by simply looking at my computer. I need at least ninety minutes every day without fail to write my book! It can’t be done!!!

That’s your resistance talking. Your resistance will always show up to tell you how it can’t be done.

Be kind to yourself. Tell your resistance that you’ll talk to her later and begin wherever you are.

Start your process with one tiny step. And if you find that tiny step to be too much, cut it in half and try again.

Because by repeating your small step, progress happens. Momentum begins to roll. Where first you just made yourself look at your workspace, one day you actually sat down. And then you began to type. Words began to seep out and fifteen minutes became twenty and then thirty.

Stop and Listen

If you don’t know what small step to take, I suggest starting by blocking off a small amount of time—say, five minutes—and use it to meditate on your goal. Your muse could be screaming an idea at you, but the static from our daily lives drowns out your muse’s quieter voice.

When meditation facilitates moments of silence, space appears for your muse’s soft tones to be heard. That inner voice bubbles to the top and tells you what is possible.

Just so you know, the other voices show up first. Grocery lists, chores that need doing, your argument with a coworker, the last thing you read on social media—all of these things materialize in your mind. Nudge them gently aside and re-focus on the silence. Eventually, those voices subside and allow the message to get through.

So, take the time for your muse and your mind and your heart to speak to you. They know what to do. Give them the space to tell you.

Every tiny step toward your goal opens the door to your muse. These small steps train your mind that this is the time when I write. This is the moment I show up to play. This is the time to do my creative work.

Take that small step, and begin.

Now that you have your “How can I make this happen?” goal, consider it from all sides. What is the smallest repeatable step you can take toward your goal?

***This post uses Kaizen-Muse Creativity Coaching Tools™.

Tell us in the comments: What small step are you going to take today?

LA (as in tra-la-la) Bourgeois empowers you to embrace JOY as you manifest your creative goals through her Creativity and Business Coaching. Battle resistance, procrastination, and overwhelm with her at your side, gently encouraging with humor and heart. Discover more at her website,

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