The big question many writers ask is, how can I keep going when I struggle to find the time to write, when I can’t get published fast enough, when I aren’t getting the sales I expected, when the idea of finding success in my writing career seems out of reach or overwhelming? The simple answer is momentum.
Momentum is the strength or force gained by motion or a series of events. In the case of writing, the more we sit and focus on what we need to do, the easier it becomes. And it’s not just the ease we gain through the act of writing, but also the love of it.
By writing, we remember how much we love it.
The moment we pause, take an extended break, allow other factors to gain priority, the easier it becomes to set our writing aside, the quicker the excuses come back, the harder it is to return. When we continue to write, the momentum keeps us confident. It also keeps the flames of our dreams fanned. Hope continues to burn within us and the thoughts of finishing that manuscript, or marketing that book, become less overwhelming.
So how do we maintain momentum in our writing?
1. We make the time to write or market
. For some writers that means scheduling the time, sacrificing television, getting up an hour earlier than the rest of the family. When someone says, “I don’t have time to write,” it’s more often than not an excuse. It’s allowing other life distractions to take priority. Of course, there will always be times you won’t be able to write due to sickness, injury, commitments to others, but even then, turning your thoughts and focus, even briefly, toward your writing can help maintain the momentum. Keep in mind, though, that thinking about writing will never be as effective as simply sitting down to write. If you are crazy busy, then find ways around it. Write down those ideas that pop into your head while standing in a queue. Snatch a minute or two to develop a character further. Use your waiting room time to look up possible images of your characters, or do some quick research related to your writing.
2. Protect that writing time
. Train your family and friends and yourself that this particular time you’ve set aside is your time to write. Don’t let anything infringe on it, baring of course, an emergency.
3. Don’t think of writing as “just a hobby,” even if it is
. Writing is precious to you. It matters. If you are like me, then it keeps you sane. Therefore give it a measure of priority, and always remember its worth.
4. Know exactly what you want from your writing
. This will give you an indication of how much time you’ll need. Work out precise, measurable goals. Go beyond the vague pseudo-goal of, “I want to write a book.” What kind of book do you want to write? How long do you want to take writing it? Do you also want a career of writing? What does that look like? What does success mean to you? The answers will be different for everyone.
5. Be cautious of taking a break from writing
. Even a little break can be harmful to the momentum you’ve built. If you take a break, any kind of break, even one as brief as checking Twitter, then it’s so much harder to get back into writing.
6. Find a writing space
. Ideally it should be a space you use only for writing. When you sit there, it’s a signal for your brain to turn toward writing.
7. Avoid the blank page
. The blank page can mock us. I can easily spend an hour staring at it. To fix this problem, some writers, when they finish for the day, will write the first couple of sentences of the next chapter or onto the next page. This maintains momentum because it helps kick off the next day’s writing session.
8. Allow yourself to write rubbish
. Don’t stop just because that perfect phrase or word is eluding you. Make a quick note and keep writing.
9. Be wary of all distractions
. One of the biggest distractions for writers is social media. We need it, but we shouldn’t let it take over our precious writing time. Give yourself a separate time for social media. Other types of distractions we face are writing related distractions. A great example is research. You might come across a segment in your manuscript where you need to look up how something might work. Make a note and move on. Do your research while watching television or some other time you haven’t designated specifically for writing.
10. Don’t edit until your draft is complete
. If you edit as you go, you create a distraction for yourself and by the end of the draft you might’ve realized that you need to do a major rewrite and discard the segment you spent all that time on.
In summary, always be mindful of the importance of momentum in your writing. Make the time to write, avoid all the distractions and practice discipline. And keep writing.
What do you do to keep writing? How has maintaining momentum in your writing helped you?
Lynda R. Young