It’s good to have big hairy audacious goals. And writing a book certainly is one of those. The problem is, it takes a very long time to accomplish. If you only focus on the end goal and not on the incremental achievements, you’ll feel like you’re hiking up a mountain forever without taking a breather to look at the view.
Incremental achievements, like your weekly or monthly writing goals, will help prevent that feeling. Knowing you’ve achieved your goal is a boost.
Researchers Teresa Amabile and Steve Kramer found that “What motivates people on a day-to-day basis is the sense that they are making progress.” Here are a couple of articles about their research:
So mark your milestones. Not just the halfway point or “the end,” though those are good ones. When you achieve your daily, weekly, or monthly writing goals, take time to appreciate your good work. Even if you fell short of your goal, don’t berate yourself. Any progress toward your goal is worth recognizing.
Even if you wound up cutting more words than you added, how many pages did you edit? That’s still progress. Learn to frame this as “I edited ten pages” rather than “I lost a bunch of work.”
You might write on a paper calendar every day how many words you wrote that day, or how many pages you edited. Maybe share it with some accountability partners in your writers group. Or post that number to Facebook or Twitter or your blog. How public you want your celebration to be is a matter of personal choice, but do take time to celebrate, even if your incremental progress was only one sentence. Don’t denigrate your progress with words like “only” or “not as much as I wanted.”
Small wins are still wins.