john hex carter

Projecting: Baby Steps

I wrote a book once. I definitely didn't do it all in one day, or one week, or even over the course of one year. It took a while to write it. There were times where I stopped working on it for awhile and I didn't even know if I'd finish it. From what I hear, that's par for the course for writers. I think that's why everywhere you look when people give advice on writing, there's an agreed upon sentiment to take small incremental steps towards your goal. Even if writing is your full-time gig, it still takes some massive amounts of energy to sit down and knock out a lot of words, but most writers and creative types are juggling it as a passion project with a day job and other responsibilities.

The first way to do this is to break down your project into small incremental steps that you could knock out in an hour or so. This is why a lot of writing advice boils down to trying to knock out 500 or 1000 words a day, but ensuring that the chunk is reasonable. Even if you write just 200 words every day over a year, you'll have written enough words to classify as a novel.

It's also very important to have forgive yourself if you don't complete the whole step or even skip a day. Not every day has to be perfect, but it is important to try to keep yourself honest. For every bad day, where you can't even write one word out of your 500 word goal, there's going to be days where you somehow muster 2000.

For my new big coding project, I utilize Github's Issue Tracker to create manageable tasks that I could knock out in an hour. I try to save an hour in the day to knock out just one task. I've made some pretty good progress doing this. Just this week I've added pagination for the blog index for this site. It was a twenty minute fix and a prerequisite to allow people to search blogs. Knock that out, and I still had time between day job and making time for family to knock out a task or two on my big project.

So, take some time out of doing the project and break out the next ten or twenty tasks to get you where you want to be. You don't have to plan out every task to get you to the goalposts, in fact you shouldn't. Every creative project I've been a part of lead to happy discoveries that made the project special.  The tasks should give you wiggle room to improvise. They're not meant to be a hard roadmap but rather the path to go down.

Thanks for reading! If you enjoyed this, throw me some coin so I can buy more laserdisc:


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