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Freelance Writers Can Use Baby Steps To Turn Action Plans Into Reality

baby stepsRecently I posted about turning dreams into reality by creating action plans.

The key to creating an action plan that works is to chunk down your dream into small, manageable bits – things you can get done in an hour or so, or even less – even 10 minutes spent on a project every day will eventually get the project done.

For example, if you want to write a book on getting a book written say, the action plan might start like this:

  1. Create a physical file folder for the book
  2. Create a desktop folder for the book
  3. Open a Word file and save it in the new folder under the working title of your book
  4. Create a vision for your book
  5. Write a 10 word purpose for your book
  6. Develop a working table of contents

And so forth.  But notice, steps 4, 5, and 6 could be broken down even further.

The answer to overwhelm is baby steps

One signal you need to break the project down even more is any sense that you don’t know what to do next or any feeling of overwhelm.

A book is a huge huge project. It’s so much easier not to write one just because it is so big. Breaking it down into even tiny baby steps will put you in a position to actually work on it bit by bit by bit until you actually get it done.

In this example you might want to schedule say 10 minutes a day on your Vision or Purpose or Working Table of Contents until you get each one done.

Or you might want to break them into things like Vision rough draft, re-read draft, edit draft, let it sit 48 hours, re-read, edit, read out loud, etc. etc. etc.
The goal is to get the steps down to something manageable for you. And it’s important they be steps you can take comfortably. Don’t worry about the size of the steps I might take or some other person might take. Ignore any thoughts that you should finish sooner or find it easier or anything else like that. This is your dream, your plan and your action steps.

Baby steps work on smaller projects too

Chunking down smaller projects, like queries, articles, looking for gigs works well too.

The steps for a query might look like this:

  • idea
  • target magazine
  • read the magazine
  • study the ads
  • draft the query
  • confirm the editor’;s name
  • re-read the query and so forth until you’ve actually submitted it.

You get the idea.

Each of the baby steps can easily be plugged into your calendar or other way you keep track of what you need to do.

It also helps if you find a way to reward yourself for each step… an extra cup of tea, a short walk, a phone call to a friend… something that helps you celebrate your progress.

Each baby step really is progress and moves you closer to your goal with reasonable serenity.

How do you manage projects?

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Image: Attribution Some rights reserved by AndWat

{ 9 comments… add one }
  • Vincent Clarke May 24, 2012, 10:30 am

    Thanks for the advice Anne. I am also a big fan of the small steps when it comes to tackling big projects. Another thing I like to do is make a list every morning of what small steps I want to take that day because it not only helps to structure the project, but my day as well. Then, at the end of the day, when all of my tasks are crossed off of my list, I feel that many steps closer to the final product!

    • annew May 25, 2012, 9:10 am

      Yes, Vincent, I actually make a similar list and it helps.

  • HP van Duuren May 24, 2012, 5:39 am

    Thanks for the info Anne,

    Looks like a possible interesting resource to buy when I sell
    a few of the Books (or some of the other Higher Priced products)
    I have reviewed myself 🙂

    I bookmarked his Blog, I like several of the ideas in his Book, like for example the idea of Collaborating with other writers. Talking about Collaborating on my own Books Review Blog that is also actually what I was aiming for, by also giving the Readers a Possiblitiy to write their own Reviews by giving them an opportunity to write their own Comments about Books.

  • Erin Hutton May 23, 2012, 4:15 am

    Love this. I think it’s why Couch to 5k is working for turning me into a runner – a set of baby steps with a goal at the end. I need to put this in place for getting started on my book project now, too. Thanks, Anne!

  • Lorii Abela May 22, 2012, 8:49 am

    Love the way that you write Anne. Looking forward for your next post.

  • HP van Duuren May 22, 2012, 2:54 am

    Thanks for your encouragement Anne,

    You are so right, baby steps can be helpful with turning action plans into reality.
    Some time ago I actually wrote a post titled: ‘4 Engaging Way’s for Writing Fillers for Magazines’, and as an encouragement for myself for example wrote about creating a Productive Mindset by Starting with creating an Ideas File Folder to Collect Ideas for Fillers.

    Only now for a while now I thought that I hadn’t actually been very Productive with Submitting any Fillers for Magazines myself and thought that I was very Un-Productive Now reading this I realise that I haven’t been totally Un-Productive, I just haven done a lot of other things that – Not – are steps in a Filler Writing Action Plan, and like for example wrote one of my first more serious attempts of writing a Book Review instead.

    Also I did begun to work on some steps in an actual Filler Writing Action Plan with a few Steps, like the step I talked about previously about creating an Ideas File Folder to Collect Ideas, I also did things like Magazine Research and Looked at my own Stock Photo Collection for Possible Photo’s that could possibly Illustrate and help ‘Sell’ Filler Articles and because of that I also even have been Submitting a few Photo’s for Photo Competitions. (and also – amung other things – worked on making improvements on my Digital Camera-ideas Blog etc. etc.)

    I even wrote a few – Footstep Fiction – Short Stories that you can find on my Short Stories in developement page, and I wrote lot’s of other things, I just didn’t have a lot of actual Results with writing Fillers (yet) and I could probably use more clearly written Action Plans 🙂

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