Inertia is a powerful force. I don’t refer to just the physical law that an object in motion will tend to remain in motion and that an object at rest will remain at rest. I mean emotional and creative intertia.
As writers, what we direct our attention towards – or away from – is where our creativity goes. If we focus on a story or a novel, writing it or thinking about it every day, it is comparatively easy to work on it. Coming back to the same story after leaving it alone for several weeks or months (or…years?), it can be hard to work up the motivation to attend to it. Relatedly, if we haven’t written at all for a few days, weeks, etc it can be very hard to get started again.
Momentum is everything. It really is. I was reminded of that this morning. My sleep and work schedule has changed, so my weekday writing is no longer taking place in the evenings but (in theory) in the morning before work. This disruption in routine killed some of my momentum and it has been hard to get back to committing myself to two hours a day of writing each weekday.
Similarly, the novel sequel I started at the Rainforest Writer’s Retreat (Smooth Vengeance) has been sitting on my hard drive since I got back. Apart from one chapter, I haven’t added to it and I DIDN’T write towards it today.* Getting up the motivation, or more properly ‘just getting my hinder into the Throne of Writing(tm) and working on the damn thing’ has been difficult.
Distractions. Excuses. Inertia. All bad things, the way they’re working on me now.
So how do I (we) change it?
First, of course, is noticing the problem. Done.
Second, dream. Start thinking about and planning out the story, during the day when you have spare moments. Think about the character, act out scenes in your head, jot and email snippets of in-character dialog to yourself. As you direct your creative attention, it will get easier and easier.
Third, read. Re-read the story, or if it’s not too stale, reread the last two chapters. Just read it. Read your notes or outline, if you have it. Read your plot description from your main character’s POV (if you did that). Reading will help build the momentum you need to get back to where you were.
Last, just write. Don’t think about it. Don’t worry about. Don’t stress about it. Just sit down after you’ve read your previous work and write what comes next. If you’re stuck, skip ahead, write the next scene. Write the sex/fight/emotional scene you really want to see. Then keep writing, every day, no matter how much or how little. At the same time, if you can, but keep writing.
Then your creative energies will be in motion and it will be easier to keep it in motion. Inertia is powerful, make it work for you.
*I have been doing other things, two short stories popped out this week, one might even be salable