Micro-Goals and Beating Writer’s Paralysis

Way back when I was sitting down to write Dead End Kids: The Suburban Job, I was feeling overwhelmed. Even though I had write two miniseries before, DEK2 would be my longest project and I was feeling paralyzed by sheer magnitude of the project. But along the way I encountered this concept of micro-goals and it helped me tackle the writing process with manageable chunks. Let me explain.


One day, while reading James Clear’s book “Atomic Habits,” I read a passage that would change my approach to writing forever:

This idea resonated with me deeply, and I began to explore how I could apply it to my comic book writing project.

Intrigued, I began to research the power of micro-goals. I learned that by breaking down larger goals into smaller, more manageable tasks, I could make steady progress without feeling overwhelmed.

Setting Micro-Goals for my Scripts

Armed with this knowledge, I put micro-goals into action. I started by creating a detailed outline for DEK2, dividing it into 20-page issues. Then, I set a micro-goal to write one page of script per day.

Some days were harder than others, and I found myself struggling with writer’s block or self-doubt. But I kept chipping away at the story one page at a time, one day at a time. Some days, I even wrote more than one page each day, but never less. Then, a few weeks later, I had a first draft.

Effort Compounds

This idea of micro-goals is a similar to the idea of compounding effort. When you do nothing for a fixed amount of time, you make zero progress. That’s what paralysis looks like. But when you make a small effort consistently over the same fixed period of time, progress happens.

Much like going to the gym, if you stand around looking at your phone and never lift a weight, you won’t build up any new muscle. But if you put volume and reps in on a consistent basis, you will see results.

Final Thoughts

Now, every time I approach a new project, I plan my execution with micro-goals. As I’ve put the reps in over the years, I’ve gotten more comfortable and sure. Metaphorically speaking, I’ve increased the weight on the bar and now I shoot for three to five pages on writing days. Whether it’s one page or three or five, the principle still holds: when you set a micro-goal and execute on it consistently, progress happens. That’s not just true for writing comics books, either. It’s true for everything in life.

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Frank Gogol is a San Francisco-based comic book writer. He is the writer of Dead End Kids (2019), GRIEF (2018), No Heroine (2020), Dead End Kids: The Suburban Job (2021), and Unborn (2021) as well as his work on the Power Rangers franchise.

Gogol’s first book, GRIEF, was nominated for the Ringo Award for Best Anthology in 2019. Gogol and his second book, Dead End Kids, were named Best Writer and Best New Series of 2019, respectively, by the Independent Creator Awards.