Tiny Little Bubba Steps

You know what will make you feel ridiculous very quickly?

Training your super needy dog to stay home without you.

It goes like this.

You figure out the baseline for how long the dog can be alone with his little doggy thoughts before he freaks.

(Obi got to 20 seconds. He’s not good, existentially speaking.)

Then you pick a target time that is less than the current baseline, so yesterday we started with 15 seconds.

Then you do multiple reps of going in and out of the door, switching back and forth between very small and slightly less small stints each time.

2 seconds. 7 seconds. 4 seconds. 10 seconds. 3 seconds. 12 seconds. 15 seconds. 9 seconds.

It works — on the first rep he goes straight to manic mode, and by the last rep he’s staying on the bed without even blinking — but LORDY it feels nuts.

But it’s like any difficult thing that’s worth doing. The first thing is to figure out what you can actually do right now — not to jump ahead straight to where you think you should already be.

Nowhere is this more true than writing.

About 90% of the people who come to me for ghostwriting say that they’ve been thinking about this book for years. A sheepish look crosses their face and they say, “I just don’t know why I haven’t been able to get it done.”

Spoiler alert, pal: you don’t write!

If you have no writing practice, if it’s not a habit or a part of your routine, you don’t have a baseline for what you’re able to do.

It’s like thinking you can run a marathon when you don’t even go outside for walks.

I’m not trying to be snarky. There’s no judgement here that writing hasn’t made it into someone’s daily life.

But if you want to write — for your own enjoyment or in the hopes that someone else will read it — you have to actually start working on it.

And like little Obi boy, you have to get used to being alone with your thoughts. And then you have to get used to externalising those thoughts, putting them down on the page, and then doing it over and over again.

Believe me, it takes practice.

I view writing as a lifelong habit, akin to exercise or investing in your relationships. If you’ve never done it before, it can feel awkward and ridiculous and even painful.

But to get to the outcome you want — to be healthy, loved and a writer, you gotta do the reps.

Start with little tiny bubba steps that are easy. Make it so easy that you can’t fail. Guarantee yourself a string of wins, so that you can gradually handle harder and harder things.

Start by writing one line. Write one line every day for a week. The next week, make it two lines. If you’re feeling good, go for three the week after that, but if you’re not, drop back to one!

There’s no shame in going slowly in order to establish the practice, and while it’s annoying not to get to your goal quickly, taking your time will guarantee you actually get there, rather than busting yourself up and never making it.

The most important thing is just to write. Just start. You’ll get where you’re going when you’re good and ready.