Writing books takes time.
It needn’t take years but it will take months.
You are making progress but it will appear subtle.
Until you achieve a readable draft, the multiple iterations required to get there can discourage and frustrate you.
That’s when you need a simpler, more tangible project to complete in a day or even an hour or two. The energy of seeing it come to life, from inspiration to completion, is fuel for drafting you back into your next writing session.
Psychologists call this the “science of small wins.”
Before I discovered that term I came up with one of my own: the “energy of completion.”
The accomplishment you readily experience when completing smaller, tangible projects mirrors what’s occurring as you “build” a book, even though it might be harder to see. The energy of completion fuels momentum and minimizes inertia. That feeling keeps your productivity tank full during the life of long-form writing and becomes reflexive within your neurobiology.
Below are ideas for smaller, tangible projects that will yield the energy of completion:
Design and create a paper toy. I like dolls. Maybe you’re into houses, airplanes, ships, animals or abstract shapes. It could be as simple as 3D paper chains like the ones many of us in the United States made as toddlers. The focus of the energy of completion is not what you create only that you create and finish in a brief time period.
Collect artifacts from your day – receipts, random scraps of paper, found objects; paste them in notebook pages; write a caption for each. Sign and date.
Color one page of a coloring book. Sign and date.
Select a favorite piece of dance music up to 5 minutes long. Choreograph and perform a spontaneous routine. Take a bow.
Walk a predetermined mile-long route.
Send “good mail” to friends and family. That’s guilt-free postal mail that requires no response from the recipient. That’s why it’s “good” mail. The folks you care about already get enough mail they have to act on. What to send? Create tiny “junk mail” art. Your materials? Free supplies that advertisers cram into your postal mailbox daily. Affix fun (commemorative) stamps to the mailing envelope.
Play with sand tray. At your local dollar store, purchase a metal, plastic or ceramic serving platter. Buy two bags of sand. You’ve spent $3.00. Collect objects from your home junk drawer, stuff you’ve been meaning to toss but haven’t. Spend 30 minutes placing the objects in the sand in any way that intuitively speaks. Spend another 5 minutes silently observing the tray.
Research a topic that intrigues you, just because. Spend 30 minutes becoming an expert.
It’s easier to maintain momentum than to ramp up after inertia has set in. The energy of completion creates a consistent wave of success that will ferry you to the finish of any long-form writing.
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Perfection is like chasing the horizon. Keep moving.
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For more on the neuroscience of writing productivity, try
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