Baby Steps Get the Job Done, and NaNoWriMo/ROW80

My mom has been working on some massive decluttering for the past few years. Some of it is her stuff, but most came from her mother, who passed away a few years ago and had the classic depression-era “collector” mentality. Mom has some health issues, so it’s been slow going at times, but when she’s able, she works on one pile of stuff at a time. Eventually, a pile gets cleared, then a stack, then a whole corner of a room.

She’s still working on it, and it may take a while, but baby steps really do get the job done.

The same goes for our writing, as many of us embark on NaNoWriMo starting this week. For the uninitiated, that’s National Novel Writing Month, a challenge in which the goal is to write 50,000 words–the equivalent of a short novel–in one month. I’ve done it–and won–twice. But it sounds daunting if you’re not a writer, or if you’ve never done it. And indeed, it’s a lot, and it takes dedication. But so does decluttering something like what my mom’s working on, and the same approach can work to getting through a big goal like NaNoWriMo.

Just write a sentence. Then the next. And the next. And the next thing you know, you’ll have a paragraph. A page. A scene. A chapter.

Baby steps really do get the job done.

ROW80Logo175To ย that end, I break my NaNoWriMo goal down into weekly goals, as part of my ROW80 goals. This week’s goals were:

  • 4500 words on WIP – close! I got 4,000. I’m happy with that.
  • Keep up with lessons and homework for Promotions workshop – I got the lessons done, will do the homework today (it’s due tonight).
  • Refine layout of Shopping Cart page and individual product page for family memberโ€™s web site – No
  • Fitness 4 times, no matter how short – No

Looks like I need to get back into that baby step mentality for the website and fitness. We’ll work on that this week:

  • 12,000 words on WIP
  • Keep up with lessons and homework for Promotions workshop
  • Refine layout of Shopping Cart page and individual product page for family memberโ€™s web site
  • Fitness 4 times, no matter how short

What about you? If you’re doing NaNoWriMo and/or ROW80, how are you doing? If not, are you working on some other goal? Have you tried the baby step approach? Please share–I’d love to hear from you!

Jennette Marie Powell writes stories about ordinary people in ordinary places, who do extraordinary things and learn that those ordinary places are anything but. In her Saturn Society novels, unwilling time travelers do what they must to make things right... and change more than they expect. You can find her books at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Smashwords, Kobo, iTunes, and more.

14 Responses to \

  1. Baby steps. Thanks for that ๐Ÿ™‚ I’m definitely nervous about getting behind. Here’s to an easy hitting our word counts this week, one baby step at a time.

  2. Oh, I’m an expert at baby steps — maybe a little too much! *g*

    For Nano now I’m actually considering doing one day big translation project / one day writing. It’s worth a try. The idea is that I might be more likely to get on a roll that way. We’ll see — like with so many things! ๐Ÿ™‚

  3. Baby steps – definitely. That philosophy was the inspiraton for the url for my ROW80 blog. ๐Ÿ™‚

    It’s all too easy to get overwhelmed looking at what appears to be a huge project, but breaking it down into chunks makes it more manageable. The trick is not to look at a chunk and think it’s too small compared to the size of the project and give up… Just do it!

    I’m glad NaNo is going well for you. See you at the finish line. ๐Ÿ™‚

  4. SJ, don’t worry about getting behind, just keep going! At least that’s what I do. This early in the month especially, it’s not hard to catch up. Good luck!

    Ruth, I’ll be interested in seeing how trading off between your two projects works. Good luck with that!

    Lisa, you are soooo right! I have to just look at the one chunk I’m working on, and not think about the whole novel at all, especially since these Saturn Society books are doorstoppers! Thanks, and good luck to you too!

  5. Not doing Nano, though it’d be awesome if the WIP went in the can by December 1. Hopefully, my first reader can have Holland Bay back to me in time for the second (third?) rewrite. HB is going trad, and I really want my (hopefully) new agent to have it by my birthday.

  6. Great advice, Jennette. I’m a big fan of baby steps. Everything is so much more doable when it’s done in bits and pieces. Hopefully one day my husband will realize this. He tends to save his mail until it is a towering stack next to his recliner chair. It’s so much easier to deal with it as it comes in!!! Hope you have a happy and successful week!

  7. Baby steps? My size 10 feet don’t know what baby steps are. Haha ๐Ÿ˜€

    Seriously, I have to take baby steps in my exercise program or I’d never go back after the first day – I’d be sore (if I could move at all, that is!).

    Good job on your Nano writing. I’m back at it on Bite Me (figured out how to get rid of Maddie – I hope – taking “baby steps” to get it right!) and hope to get it back to my editor before I leave for my cruise on the 16th. So, that’s a goal worth attaining!

  8. Good for you for taking the time to do NaNo again. I’ve never tried it because I know there is no way I’ll ever do it. Not with a full-time job, a very long commute, taking care of an aging parent and various other stuff. I’m more of a binge writer; I will sit for 10 hours in one sitting and do nothing but write. But then it might be a week before I get back to it.

    Hey, whatever works.

    Keep it up my friend.

    Patricia Rickrode
    w/a Jansen Schmidt

  9. I’ve decided 2014 with be the Year of the Great Declutter. We have so much excess stuff it’s just silly.

    Congrats on tackling NaNo. It’s on my One of These Years list. ๐Ÿ™‚

    All the best.

  10. I love big sweeping goals – and getting there with baby steps.

    I’m going for 100k (a full draft), this NaNo. I have, for the first time, color-coded, fun baby steps. Marking scenes of my Master Scene List, making “cheat sheets” with pertinent details for each scene, changing their status in Scrivener as I go – all of these help me break things up. Then there’s family life, hometending, blogging, and other things to do, when I need a breather.

    I’ve been mostly in my story, the last two or three days. The scenes have been good, emotionally charged and imagery-rich, but on the slow side…sometimes that’s how it goes, for me.

    I’m a day or so above my target word count, and on target for my scene count.

    I’m sure there will also be times when other things need more of my attention than writing, too…for me, it’s key to understand how I and my life work, so that I’m not expecting the impossible, then getting mad at myself when I can’t keep up.

    Enjoy your baby steps! =D

  11. Thanks for the baby-steps message, Jennette. If I tell myself I only have to write one page, I usually get four, but if I tell myself I must write eight pages, I choke.

    Good luck with NaNo!

  12. Jim, good luck on your WIP – you’re doing great!

    Coleen – LOL, my husband has no concept of baby steps either!

    Stacy, you are so right about the fitness! And good luck with your revisions, too.

    Patricia, we all have to figure out what works for us – I can’t imagine writing for a ten-hour day!

    Maria, maybe next year!

    Steph, good luck with your decluttering! I need to tackle that next.

    Shan, 100k=awesome! I’ll bet you do it, too, and learn a lot about your process. Good luck!

    Pat, that’s exactly what happens to me! Hence the baby steps! ๐Ÿ™‚

  13. Oh I’m a hoarder of clothes, books, and in general, I hate waste, so tend to cling onto things. My husband is the completely opposite and throws things out (infuriatingly) willy-nilly! ๐Ÿ™‚

    Congrats on your NaNo progress – maintain baby-steps. You end up there and often in a much better state than post-sprint! ๐Ÿ™‚ X