When A Little Bit is Actually a Lot


Like pieces of tile, little moments of industry add up into a beautiful mosaic of finished projects. Each of us has been given all the pieces we need to make the projects that truly matter—if only we’ll place them well.

November is a crazy month at my house. In addition to running my own business, I’ve got one graphic novel wrapping up and preparing for print, another serial novel launching on 11/18, five costumes to finish for Teslacon, and a NaNoWriMo novel draft in full swing. Plus, I’ve been sick for the last couple weeks and traveling for work.

Some days this month, I’ve been tempted just to throw in the towel. The knowledge that I choose this crazy schedule for very specific reasons, at this specific time, is what keeps me going.

That, and a bit of strategic planning.

Whenever we’ve a lot going on, it’s tempting to do nothing at all because we can’t do it all at once. But this actually defeats the purpose. Though our minds like to tell us that doing much is the key to success, I’ve found that doing a little bit at a time actually gets me much further in the long run.

Let me explain.

Over these last few weeks, I haven’t been feeling my usual level of energy due to some kind of flu-like illness. Often I couldn’t get the volume of work done in a day or week that I wanted to. But I could most definitely get some thing done. Even if it was just one thing.

In fact, that’s been my approach the last couple of weeks: tackle one small task per day on each of my projects. I’ve written about this elsewhere as the “One Next Step” approach—and it really does work wonders.

I added up once all the wasted moments in my week. It was a heck of a lot of time: time I could be putting to good use on the projects I say I really care about.

Five minutes here or ten minutes there does actually make a difference. Even if I only get 1,000 words written today for NaNoWriMo, or one applique piece affixed to a League of Marvelosities illustration, or one Alethia Grey panel, or one hat trimmed for Teslacon . . . each of these very small tasks puts me one step further down the path.

Being further ahead simultaneously means not getting behind. Which means actually reaching my goals, if not on time than pretty well near to it . . . rather than giving up at some point and admitting defeat.

Celebrating the power of little things, and figuring out how to orchestrate a lot of little things into a multi-project release schedule, has been a bit of a trick. I’m still getting the hang of it. But I’m also committed to becoming an even more prolific writer who creates and then ships her work, no excuses.

Shipping your work means learning not just to plan but to execute with (sometimes) an almost-automatonic sense of ruthlessness. Five minutes here or fifteen minutes there can mean the difference between another abandoned project and that true sense of satisfaction that comes from finishing the job.

As you’re working on your creative projects this week, I challenge you (and me!) not to give in to that subtle whisper that we’ll “do more later” because we “can’t do it all now.” Let’s overturn this subtle form of creative resistance, and achieve the goals we’ve set for ourselves.

Pick only one small task or milestone and accomplish all of it today.

Because todays always add up to tomorrow.

One thought on “When A Little Bit is Actually a Lot

  1. This made me very happy, and hopeful. I love that I share this boat with you because that means I get to be inspired by you each little-thing-we-do at a time. Cheers to your ventures, and Happy Doing to us all! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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