Progress is Progress

From August 3rd to August 16th, I’ll be participating in Story Embers’ Support the Writing Community Challenge. (Use the link to visit their website to learn more and join in.) #SupportTheWritingCommunityChallenge

Do you write to write? Or do you write to publish?

When I first began writing, publication was a distant thought that occasionally flittered into my daydreams. Mostly, I wrote to express myself and rarely shared anything. But as the distant dream of publication invaded my thoughts more, I began to seek connecting with other writers and to learn more about the path to publication. That’s when I discovered a writer pursuing publication is like an athlete pursuing pro-sports or an actor pursuing films.

In the age of technology, DIY often seems like an easy path to achieving a goal. Amazon and other print-on-demand distributors have removed a lot of barriers for writers. Writers can more easily self-publish these days. Just as pro-athletes can form their own teams and actors can produce their own films.

But what would those efforts be without the same level of dedication to training that it takes to pursue those goals through traditional channels?

If you want to pursue publication, you should be to be dedicated to training—to forming a consistent writing habit.

I don’t know about pro-athletes or actors, but there’s a lot of writing advice floating around about what dedication to writing and publishing looks like. And as a dutiful newbie, I tried (or listened to) a lot of it. But what works for one person doesn’t always work for another.

The most universal and meaningful advice I’ve encountered is the idea that progress is progress. Whether it’s one word, a hundred, or a thousand, all that matters is that it gets you closer to your goal.

I heard that advice long before I believed it in my heart. But once I believed it, I stopped setting word count goals and chastising myself for not reaching them. Instead, I started setting progress goals without numerical expectations. Random snippets of dialogue, plot points, brainstorming notes—all of it was progress. It didn’t matter how little there was, how terrible it was, or even if it would never be used.

I realized some words are stepping stones for the words that need to be written. And rewrites are for the rest.

And you know what also happened when I started believing that any progress is progress? I felt less stressed and began making consistent progress. The habit of writing emerged.

Many writers have found success by setting word count goals and other similiar measures. And that’s great. I just wasn’t one of them. But that’s why the idea of “progress is progress” is so universal. Because it’s about focusing on your goals, factoring in your challenges, and celebrating your milestones—using a method that works for you.

How do you define your writing goals? What works for you?

Published by K.A. Cummins

K.A. Cummins is an award-winning author and artist. Her publications include Havok Publishing, Rattle, Blue Mesa Review, and her middle-grade series, Snow Globe Travelers.

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