Find Joy and Creativity Again With Small Steps

Saturday, January 22, 2022
I recently wrote the newsletter intro for the WOW! January markets e-newsletter, and I came up with the theme that small steps plus small goals can equal big success. Then, in my friend group, we've been texting a lot (on a group chat!) about feeling stagnant in careers and in life. Those conversations, along with my article for the newsletter and my own recent life changes, made me think of this: 

Empower yourself with small steps. Forward progress of any kind will make you feel better. 

Stagnation is the enemy of joy and creativity!

This past year, I had a job that was not going anywhere--I felt stuck. I knew I needed change, but it's hard being a single mom and living in the U.S. We need health insurance. So I applied at Starbucks, where I only need to work part time to qualify for health insurance. Plus, I can freelance. This would also give me more flexility to help my aging parents. It was a win-win-win plan. 

Then because I was in this forward motion, one of the companies I freelance for had an open position for a writer, and it's a great job. It has room for growth, a wonderful salary and benefits, and I accepted the job. I start that February 1. None of this would have happened if I wouldn't have made small steps to leave a job that was stressful. I was stuck. I got myself un-stuck, and things happened.

This is true in so many areas of our lives, but REALLY true in our writing life. I'm talking to myself here, too, because I have been stuck on a project for about a year now. It's a nonfiction book for teachers and parents, and every time I do pick it up to work on it, I think to myself: This is actually not so bad. Why are you not finishing it?

Small steps plus small goals equal big success. 

I need to listen to my own advice. 

I've decided while writing this blog post that if I can just get one section completed a week on my book, it will eventually be done. Instead of saying: "I have to work on this book every day." Or "I need to edit the whole thing and finish it now." Or "I still need 52 ideas for this to be complete." 

One section a week is manageable and forward progress. Stagnation over. 

This year, my word of the year is joy. I'm looking for joy in every area of my life. And I know it's possible with small steps. 

I wanted to let you know that I won't be blogging on The Muffin for a while. I'm taking a short break with some of my commitments because I also have a goal NOT to overwhelm myself in 2022. I like to say YES to a million things, and then complain about how exhausted and stressed out I am--all the opposite of JOY. I'm sure I'll be back either here or in the newsletter, but for now, I'm focusing on the new writing position, teaching WOW! classes, finishing my own book, and publishing Editor-911 Books. These are the career things that bring me joy--plus for a while, I'll still be making some chai tea lattes on the weekends at Starbucks. 

What small steps can you take in your life? In your writing? Or if you don't need this in your personal or professional life, how about your novel or short story characters? Are your characters stuck in your novel? What small steps can they take to get out and get moving? We'd all love to hear about that in the comments! 

Margo L. Dill is a writer, teacher, editor, and publisher, living in St. Louis, MO, with her dog and her daughter. To sign up for her next writing class on writing for the middle-grade and young-adult reader, starting on January 26, go here now. Her writing a novel with a writing coach class will be on hiatus for a couple months, but you can sign up for the April session here. Find out more about Margo at, and about Editor-911 Books at


Beverley Baird said...

Love your post. Small steps are doable. I too have chosen Joy as my word of the year. It is already forcing me to look at the everyday in new ways,
Congrats on your new job. SAll the best

Cathy C. Hall said...

We'll miss your positivity here, Margo, but you DO get around so I'll get plenty of you in other reading. :-)

I was thinking as I read your post that yep, we too often get stuck in doing the same thing but it's only when we try something different that we grow, often in unexpected ways.

I've been changing things up in the last two years (I think it's been two years. I seriously have lost all concept of time since Covid hit the world) and it's been so energizing!

So I'm writing an adult novel now and my goal is 500 words per day, Monday through Friday (I started that back in November, for the most part). That's about an hour every day of editing/writing. I focus on the small goals--just like you said--and lo and behold, the big success (a 60,000 word novel) is just a few weeks away!

Sue Bradford Edwards said...

Sniff. I'm thinking of myself here, Margo. I will miss your posts BUT...

Yay! I'm so happy that you've found a new work opportunity and that you are again working on your own book.

There are so many stressors that you don't do anything about. I'm so glad to see you doing something where you can. Fingers crossed for you!

Nicole Pyles said...

I so understand!!! I have taken on too much this year without meaning to - honestly, half the things I went for freelance-wise I never thought I'd get - and then each weekend has had some type of project and I realized how much I needed to hold off taking on more. So kudos to you for embracing your creative self and freeing up your plate!

Renee Roberson said...

This is an inspiring post--I've decided to break down some of my "ambitious" goals into monthly ones and it has helped somewhat. I also admire your courage to get out of a position that had grown stagnant for you. I'm sort of in the same position at a gig and am hoping the right alternative will present itself soon. I'll miss all your insightful posts but you sound like you have some great projects on the horizon--and self care is so important!

Margo Dill said...

Hello to all you supportive friends. THANK YOU!

Renee: Best of luck to you with your gigs. I hope something great comes along.

Nicole: Thank you! I hope this happens for you, too.

Sue: You are very sweet. Thank you!

Cathy: Awesome. Can't wait to read that!

Beverly: THANK YOU! Here's to Joy!

Angela Mackintosh said...

I love this post, Margo! It takes a lot of courage to leave a job that isn't positive for you to pursue the unknown, and I'm so happy it worked out. Congrats on your new job! :) When I moved to the forest, I kept hearing the word "joy" in my head. After Covid in Los Angeles, I had to get out of the city. Sometimes it takes forward motion or a change of scenery to find a new outlook.

In our accountability group, SueBE came up with the brilliant idea of creating monthly goals instead of big yearly goals. Small steps, small goals, right? I decided that writing a book length project was not right for me at this time. After years of working on two memoirs! Lol. But I felt like committing to those projects for another year was a weird type of stagnation. I don't think I'm ready for a book. I'd rather put my efforts into short pieces right now because I need those publication wins to lift me up. :)

I spent the last two years paring back all my responsibilities and extra work so I could be a full-time caregiver. Now I'm finally ready to add more to my plate! I have some goals for expanding my business and starting a couple new ones that I'm vigorously pursuing right now.

Cheers to everyone's happiness in 2022!

Powered by Blogger.
Back to Top