Short and Sweet Advice for Writers – Gather Momentum

define momentum

I don’t know about you, but I often have trouble getting started on a writing project. I have no trouble with the pre-writing work – thinking about, exploring, and playing with an idea – but when I’m finally sitting in front off the blank screen, fingers poised over the keyboard, I freeze. I am suddenly gripped by self-doubt, fear, and indecision about what to do next.

This is to be expected. Getting started is hard. It’s like stepping off a cliff or out of a plane into … nothing. You’re on your own. You’ll probably fall for a while before you remember that you’ve got wings. It helps to have a process to get you going – a series of steps that you can lean on when you’re not really sure what to do first. (Here’s a 12-step process I use for many writing assignments. Feel free to borrow it!)

But, while starting is hugely important (I mean, you obviously need to do that first), it’s also important to KEEP GOING once you’ve started. This is where MOMENTUM comes in.

Say it with me: “Mo-men-tum.” It’s kind of fun to say. It almost has a rhythm that feels like you might be able to dance to it.

As defined by Merriam-Webster, momentum is:

  • the strength or force that something has when it is moving
  • the strength or force that allows something to continue or grow stronger or faster as time passes

I like the sound of that. Don’t you?

Think about it in terms of your writing. Have you ever been working on something and suddenly feel like you’ve reached the downside of a hill? You know – you’ve been slogging along and then something shifts and the words come more easily and your fingers can barely keep up with your brain? That’s momentum. It’s what happens just before you find “flow.”

So, how do you gain momentum?

You write. And you write and you write and you write. You don’t get up every two minutes to get a drink or check your email or dust the curios in the cabinet. You write. You get yourself started however you can, and then you keep going. You don’t give in to the temptation to step away. You don’t let the demons slow you down. You just keep putting one word after the other, even if you’re worried they might not be the right words. It doesn’t matter. You just keep climbing up that hill, one sentence at a time, and then – all of a sudden – you’ll feel a force at your back, pushing you forward and making the whole process easier. You’ll feel like you’re tripping lightly downhill instead of clawing your way up a steep slope. That’s momentum.

And it doesn’t just apply to the piece you’re working on right now. It also applies, on a larger scale, to your whole writing life.

Momentum. It’s a beautiful thing. Go out there and create it today.

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Jamie Lee Wallace Hi. I’m Jamie. I am a content writer and branding consultant, columnist, sometime feature writer, prolific blogger, and aspiring fiction writer. I’m a mom, a student of equestrian arts, and a nature lover. I believe in small kindnesses, daily chocolate, and happy endings. Introduce yourself on FacebookTwitter, Instagram, or Pinterest. I don’t bite … usually.
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16 thoughts on “Short and Sweet Advice for Writers – Gather Momentum

    • Yes – keep climbing. Eventually, you have to reach the point at which things start going downhill … in a GOOD way!

      Good luck!

    • Easier said than done, right?
      Just remember – you have to be DOING the thing in order to gain momentum with it. That’s all it takes – getting started and keeping going. One foot in front of the other. One word after the other.

      Good luck!

      • I am already working on the next thing, a novel. Well, I’ve written two scenes of the novel and about 8,000 words of notes and character studies. At this rate I figure on being done by 2019.

  1. I’m a big one for setting a timer! I sit at my desk, put my music on, make sure the ink in my pen is full and set a timer. No doing anything else until the timer ends. It makes it easy to sanitise that time from anything else that might be going on! Writing with pen and paper is obviously slower than typing, but I feel it helps my creativity and also stops me from editing my work as I go (which sometimes I think would stop me from every writing anything!). Even if it’s a short story and I only write the first few hundred words before transitioning to a laptop, it helps me 🙂

    • Timers can be a huge help … as long as you have the focus and willpower to abide by the rules. It’s an approach I’m playing with more and more these days. I also like the idea of writing to music, but – alas! – I am one of those people who has trouble writing with that kind of distraction. Oddly, I have no trouble writing in a busy cafe, but the music is usually just too engaging for me to put into the background.

      I like the idea of starting on paper and then transitioning to computer. I may have to try that as well … sounds like a helpful tip! TKS!

  2. I might try azpascoe’s timer idea. But what I think will really help me will be to print out MOMENTUM, frame it and stick it on the wall next to my computer 🙂

  3. For me a question pops up, either by someone or suddenly from within. Its like a seed or making a cake. It grows inside and suddenly it becomes ready and I have take it out. Ready for others to share it. Once its like that, there is no stopping. The whole world stops. Even if I am hungry or thirsty I cant stop I have to finish it off, or else I lost that momentum !!! Funny until I read this article I didn’t think it as momentum !!! Once I have written it, everything has drained off from my mind. And my mind is empty free. Thank you for this article. I have learnt what momentum is. So far it only comes when something stirs inside, I cannot force it to come 🙂

    • That sounds like quite the process and experience! 🙂
      I love the sense of urgency you feel when you have a story to tell. That’s a powerful motivator and probably the best “super power” you can have when it comes to cultivating persistence and staying power. Good for you!! 🙂

      • I am a survivor of long term depression of 15 years. Usually I am asked man questions on Face Book where I do pages also still I am in the process of healing. So there is some issue that builds up from time to time. I write because its important for others to know from a person who has and still going through issues like anxiety. Thanks for replying 🙂

      • Writing has the power to bring healing, not only to the writer, but to those who read the words that are put down in moments of truth and honesty. I hope that healing is part of your experience on this writing journey.

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