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PR Isfeld

On momentum
On momentum

“Writers can’t write as fast as governments make wars, because to write demands thinking. “

–Bertold Brecht 


The news of the world is still depressing, and spring isn’t here yet. My cabin fever is making it hard for me to keep my seat in the chair and my fingers on the keyboard. When this happens, I need to remind myself of the excitement of writing, and find ways to get back into the swing of a story.

Here are my suggestions for things that have helped me generate and maintain writing momentum:

  1. Mind mapping

Jotting down a few notes about what I want to accomplish each day, and how those things links together, is a great way of getting into the zone. Spending a few moments thinking about which characters I want to work with that day, where I want to take them, and how they might get there, is always worth it.

  1. Old-school penmanship

Digging out my fountain pen and paper notebook can help connect with a different part of the brain. Sometimes, when I go to type my notes into the computer afterwards, I feel like I’m just a stenographer, taking dictation from my own mind (or maybe from the muse).

  1. Cut time a little short

Set a timer and do the best version of your scene or story that you can in 15 minutes or an hour. However much time you have, give yourself a little less than you think you need, and just write. You can always edit later.

  1. Tune the world out

Turn off your notifications, or even better, disconnect wifi or use a pen and paper.  Put on a recording of nature sounds, or maybe music without words. Pour a big enough mug of your favourite drink so you won’t have to get up for the duration of your session.  And then just write, without stopping to edit, research, or correct.

  1. Put off editing as long as possible

If you’re anything like me, editing as you go can lead to paralysis I find that the best way for me to get going is to re-read and lightly edit whatever I did the day before, but not to go back any further until I have accumulated a tranche of at least fifty pages.

  1. Editing is not writing

If I don’t set aside distinct periods for each one, neither will get done properly.

  1. Take note and keep moving

When you come across something you need to research or flesh out, make a note in parenthesis or highlighted text and keep on going. You can return to solve those problems in your next big edit.

  1. Respect your rhythm

For me, an hour or two of writing within three hours of waking up is worth three times that later in the day. Figure out your best writing time and design your life to protect it.

  1. Control your environment

Cultivating the ability to work under less-than-ideal conditions is worthwhile, but if you can have those ideal conditions, why not do it? There are certain places in my house that work particularly well for me, so I keep going back to them. Sometimes, just setting into the right place is enough to bring on the urge to write.

  1. Give yourself a break

Sometimes you have to slog through a tough patch to make the rest of your story make sense, but if it’s too much of a grind, take a break. And if it’s too hard,  give some thought to whether there might be another way to accomplish what you need to do.