Start Small. End Big.

I play basketball two or three days each week.

It’s my favorite exercise. A chance to be a kid again for an hour and a half before work. And sweat off a donut or two.

Monday, Wednesday, and Friday I get to the gym just before 6:00 a.m. I lace up my shoes, grab a ball and walk directly under the basket at the north end of the gym. There I shoot short, easy-to-make shots, alternating from the right side to the left side of the basket.


After 20 or 30 shots, I move back a foot or two. Swish. Bank. Swish. Bank. Most mornings I’ll shoot 150-200 shots before we even start playing. If I miss more than five, I’m doing something wrong.

Starting small — doing something easy and repeatable — can have application in creative efforts beyond shooting a basketball.

Here’s the formula:

easy + repeatable + frequent success = a better end product

Are you stuck on a paragraph in a story you’re writing? Try writing one beautiful word over and over for 30 seconds. Write a haiku (just 17 syllables!). Write one sentence you’re proud of.

In my years as a fundraising copywriter, I wrote hundreds of letters, emails, newsletter stories and scripts. Involved packages often included multiple versions, with varied offers and audiences. Word documents stretched past 50 pages.

I always started with the thank-you letter.

Writing a short, half page, heartfelt message of appreciation helped me focus on the task of writing the other 49 pages.

Start small. End big.

Want to talk about basketball, writing or fundraising? Email me at



Hoop photo by Nik / licensed under CC BY 2.0