Sometimes, it can be extremely difficult to see the positive side of things. Maybe you think your life isn’t going in any direction or you’ve fallen behind on society’s “ladder of success.” Perhaps, you just feel down and guilty because you’re not getting things done that you want to get done. Work, kids, or other things take up all your time and you’re not able to “be productive” in other ways of life. Maybe you do have the time, but just don’t have the motivation? Well, we’ve all been there.
For me, I haven’t been writing as much as I should. In fact, I’m stuck in one of my stories. No matter which way I write it, it doesn’t seem like it’s ever at its best. It’s my goal to complete this story by the end of the year and I’m stuck worse than a dino in a tar pit. I’ve been taking some distance from it. It was suggested to me to a couple of times to take a break and come back to it, but it’s been weeks and I haven’t even glanced at it…I try to tell myself that it’s okay that I haven’t gotten to it, because in the mean time, I’m trying to query my finished project and I’m also waiting on some feedback. I’m promoting my website, gaining followers on Twitter. And you know what?
It is okay that I haven’t gotten back to my story.
With how busy life is, there’s only so much you can get to in a day. So, you have to enjoy your victories when you get them and I don’t mean the big victories of finishing a book, hooking an agent, landing that dream job, buying a house, losing that extra weight, or anything else that would be greatly celebrated in societies eyes. I mean, the small victories that come with every day: getting a few sentences on the page, sending out a query, gaining experience toward the dream job, interviewing, saving some money, making your child smile, starting a project, continuing your hobby, doing a couple minutes of exercises. Those are the victories that really add up.
A while ago, I wrote a post called “Anything Worth Doing…” You could consider this a continuation of that post. Small victories come with every day and those small victories can add up quickly. Think of it like water dripping out of the faucet. Most can testify that they’re very conscious of their water bill and when you realize that one of your faucets is leaking, you know how that leak will add up. Same goes for my writing, a little bit every day adds up in the long run. You even compare it to exercise: a few minutes here, a few reps there, even a walk down to the end of the street and back–it’s progress. Whatever project, goal, or dream you’re aiming toward will be a lot closer if you remember small victories even on your off days.
If you go to my Art Gallery on this site, you’ll see a picture of four birds with a dogwood flower in the middle. That took me over a year and a half (maybe more) to finish. When I started it, I worked on it for a couple days, got three of the four birds done. Yet, I fell away from it, even packed it up after the paint dried and put the project in the closet. I didn’t get back to it until many months later. The reasons for that vary: I got busy and couldn’t work on it, I lost some motivation to paint, I was working on other projects, but the main one: I was afraid I’d mess up the blue jay. The blue jay was the last bird I did in that painting, before that, I did the house finch and the house finch didn’t turn out as well as I’d hoped. It’s definitely my least favorite of the four birds. Blue jays are one of my favorite birds, so after how the house finch turned out, I was scared the blue jay wouldn’t be as good as I wanted it to be, and I let that fear lead me into packing up the project. Yet, months later, I was painting a different project–a wall-painting for my niece. I ended up pulling out the four birds again just because I felt guilty that I had couple other projects done and not the four birds. I avoided the blue jay and painted the branches and flowers and touched up the background. All this happened over the course of several days and when I finally started on the blue jay, I only did a little at a time, because I feared my next brush stroke would ruin it. Yet, little by little, that blue jay got done and the painting complete.
Maybe you’re not a painter, but you have some project, some goal you want to start or finish? There’s no reason you can’t start today. All it takes is a few minutes. Even if you do one brush stroke, weave one thread, send one query, do one rep, read one page, practice a few notes, etc. etc. etc. You’re making progress. Don’t quit because you feel guilty or you’re afraid to screw it up, because then it’ll never get done. A project complete is better than a project wasted. So, take those small victories while you can and you’ll see how far you’ll go.