02
Aug
10

Part 4 of 5 Things I’ve learned about writing: Momentum matters

Momentum matters and persistence pays — no truer words were ever spoken (or written) for a writer.

As I discover every day, no daily writing session stands alone, each hour of work, each day of work ties to the one before–and connects to the one to come after. Writing builds on itself.

With everything we all have going on in our daily lives, brains can only be expected to hold on to a plotline for so long. Let’s face it, life gets in the way of writing. I’m a walking/talking example — I’m about a month behind my personal schedule as a result of real life (and two colds) keeping me from writing. Life has an annoying tendency to take our minds away from our characters and make us talk and actually interact (gasp) with living, breathing people. When this happens and I get back to my writing, what momentum I’d built up has gone bye-bye. Dang it! Then I have to take valuable writing time to go back over what I’d done before to bring myself back up to speed.

And it’s not just the words that we lose our grasp on when we don’t (or can’t) write every day. A particular character’s emotional state, the emotions they had in the scene where you stopped were right there, bubbling on the surface of your consciousness, ready to be tapped again. If you lose a day or two, needless to say, the bubbling has stopped.

And to write every day (or every day that you can) takes discipline and persistence. Discipline to do it, and persistence to see it through to the end of the book and beyond (to getting an agent and publisher). For those who want it badly enough, the thoughts and dreams of reaching that final goal are enough to keep us moving forward. And there are plenty of roadblocks: life, family and friends who don’t understand (or worse yet, who don’t believe in you), and just the cold, hard truth that writing is hard work. It’s lonely work. And if you want to be a published writer, you have to trudge on dispite all of this.

As most of you know, I have a full-time job, so carving out time to write wasn’t (and still isn’t) easy, but I really wanted to be published, so I found the time. I started writing on a more regular schedule, and I could see the improvement. And when I saw the improvement, I wanted to write more. With that came confidence and a determination to reach my goal.

I’d still be writing even if I wasn’t published, because writing isn’t just what I do — writing is who I am. It’s like an addiction, you can’t stop, and you don’t want to. When I’m not writing, I’m thinking about writing. When I’m writing, I’m happy. When I’m between projects, I can get a little cranky. Just ask my fabulous (and patient and supportive) husband.

Writing for publication is like any other goal worth working and fighting for — you have to put your nose to the proverbial grindstone and just do the work. Believe me, after struggling for it for over 20 years, it is SO worth it. ; )

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3 Responses to “Part 4 of 5 Things I’ve learned about writing: Momentum matters”


  1. 1 Amy
    August 3, 2010 at 5:40 am

    Lisa, you’ve put into words something I’ve been thinking about a lot over the last few days. I’ve been writing a lot recently anyway, but over the last week I’ve been writing a set amount every single day. I’m already amazed at how much easier – and faster – my writing has become. Thank you for convincing me that this is something I need to keep up. Discipline is the thing!

  2. August 3, 2010 at 8:49 am

    Glad to help, Amy!

    Lisa

  3. August 26, 2010 at 4:04 pm

    Amen! It’s so true that momentum matters. Sometimes I could write for hours and hours but my lunches are short (even when I take longer than permitted lunches B-) ). There are days where I really wish I had no other obligations because if I rode the momentum when it’s going well, the book would be done! Anyway, I think writing even when you don’t feel like it teaches you to create the momentum. You know? I have friends who only write when they feel like it. That doesn’t work for me. How will I get anywhere if I only do it when I “feel” like it. 🙂


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