Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Recovering Momentum

Writers talk about daily goals. Some use number of words, others time at the keyboard. The key seems to be this discipline of steady work.

This is something I didn't understand when I was younger. In my teens and twenties, I wrote when inspiration struck me. I wrote fast and furious, and rarely revised the words for fear of insulting the muse somehow.

It was little surprise that I didn't complete much and what I did write was mediocre.

After a decade long break from writing, where the creative work I did was in raising two sons, I returned to writing in my late 30s, focusing on my first love, poetry. I started writing daily, both keeping a journal and working on poetry, with a passion I had almost forgotten. That was when I stumbled into the world of online workshops and the process of critique and revision. It's where I learned the discipline of regular writing, reviewing, and revising that has served me well in writing novels.

Creative writing is that strange mix of magical creativity and grunt work. A combination of daydreaming and digging ditches, so to speak. With that discipline and practice, I am on track to have completed 5 novels in the past 5 years.

That's all good. But the insanity of the past few weeks in the run up to my son's Bar Mitzvah, I lost my momentum. Instead of writing every day, working toward 1K/day 5K/week goals, at best, I've written several hundred words over the past 2 weeks. It's like pushing a boulder uphill and stopping for a rest, while watching the boulder roll all the way back to the bottom.

The story feels like a set of clothes that no longer fit, to use a different metaphor. I have to find my way back to the heart of the novel and its characters, so I can regain the momentum I have lost.

The good news is I know I can do this. There is a comfort in having completed the novel process from glimmer of idea to the end four times before. I know the work that lies ahead and I look forward to it. It's the best work in the world and I am so fortunate in being able to do it.

If you are a writer, how have you regained momentum?

Happy writing, all!


  1. I'm in a similar position. Work was insane for a few weeks and just when I think I can get back into things, I either got sick (allergies) or work again intrudes.

    I need a block of time, uninterrupted, even for a few hours to emerse myself into the story again. So far, I've got it scheduled for Saturday - we'll see.

    Good luck.

  2. Me too. You're just off track. Just give yourself the time to get back into a routine.

    For me, I have a harder time staying focused as the weather warms up.