Want to Increase Your Productivity in Writing? Stay Small to Become Big

Jason Lam
2 min readJun 11, 2021
Photo by Fitsum Admasu on Unsplash

Completing Running Marathons

While training to run 21 km in blazing tropical sunlight with humidity as thick as a steam room, I heard advice from a former Marine to help extend our endurance. The trick wasn’t to demand that we endure the remaining entirety of our run. The trick is to focus on finish lines in front of you.

“You see that lamp post over there? Just focus on reaching there. Then, once you reach it, focus on that noodle cart right beyond it. And then once you get there, focus on the cafe at the end of the block.”

Eventually, those series of in-front-of-you finish lines becomes the actual finish line.

Completing Writing Marathons

Writing 20,000 words for 8 hours straight is intimidating. I wouldn’t even want to start. I know that I would probably give up after the 2nd hour, because I would think about the remaining 6 hours. I would probably feel the strain of stressing my brain for more ideas and words by the 2,000th word.

But writing 200 words? I’d truly not want to write if I was unwilling to just write 200 words. And just for 20 minutes? Am I so busy that I can’t invest 20 minutes into a long-term project?

If you can focus on just writing 200 words at a time, it’ll take 100 writing sessions before you write your 20,000th word. But focusing on just writing 200 words per session, it’s just a matter of time before you get there. And a matter of time sounds a lot more encouraging than just a matter of endurance, resilience, and perseverance.

Minimal diligence. Minimal because you still need something. Diligence because you just need something consistently.

Not instant brilliance. Not tremendous creativity.

Just the slow chiseling away at a sculpture. Bit by bit, it’s how you’ll do it.

When you go microscopic enough, the infiniteness of the universe is built by atoms. To maintain productivity, give yourself micro deadlines and word counts. You’ll write what you want to. It’s a matter of time, even if it’s just 10 minutes per day.