Momentum

When I sat down to write this piece I had one purpose in mind, summarize the previous year in a nutshell and briefly talk about my blurry view of my future, but not have it come across as your typical New Year’s resolution bit. What I wanted to say had to be broader than that, wide in scope, but easily relatable. The more and more I pondered what I wanted to say, waiting for my thoughts to jell into some form of cohesive meaning, I realized the real topic of the post was right there before my eyes. You see, I first sat down to write this post two weeks ago.

Every time I plopped down in front of the keyboard and started writing, I found myself unable to sustain any sense of creative momentum. There it was…2010 in a nutshell…and an obstacle to tackle in 2011. And even better was the fact that it’s something every single one of us struggles with from time to time, whether we’re talking about writing, or in everyday life.

How many of you have tried to start a diet (a popular topic this time of year) and stumbled early-on, rationalizing the slip by telling yourself you’ll start over again next week? Why? Because you haven’t built up enough momentum to resist temptation. I do that all the time. When I’ve finally been good for several weeks and continue making regular visits to the gym, it’s much easier to resist those unhealthy detours and stay on track. I don’t want to jeopardize the hard work I’ve dedicated myself to so far.

I see the same thing in many of the things I do. I won’t start reading a new book unless I foresee large chunks of available time in my future. Why? Because I don’t like constant interruptions, reading a page or two whenever I can find the time. When I read in that fashion, I find it difficult to get into the book. How many times have you put off getting involved with something until you are certain there will be enough time to give it your undivided attention? Isn’t that considered preventative momentum abatement?

Can we use physics to explain why is momentum such a factor in everything we do? It was Newton who first described the relationship between the forces acting on a body and its motion due to those forces.

• An object that is at rest will stay at rest unless an unbalanced force acts upon it.

• An object that is in motion will not change its velocity unless an unbalanced force acts upon it.

How odd is it that a fundamental law of physics can be so easily translatable to human behavior? Is it physics that keeps me sitting on the couch in front of the television…a body at rest…or mental laziness?

Momentum is a tricky thing though. It can exist on multiple levels, sometimes moving in contrasting directions, much like a Boeing 747 speeding along at 565 mph at cruising altitude (like how I worked that in there) but leaving its passengers feeling none of that forward motion. Take my writing for example. I found it not only difficult to get the ball rolling in 2010, but keep it going. Yes, the distractions were numerous and new responsibilities at work wore me down, but despite all that I finished the year with a sense of accomplishment. That comes from my unshakable feeling of a sustained forward momentum.

I have spoken with writers who battle with problems completing projects. An idea loses its luster in mid-stream and they are drawn to a shiny new concept instead. Although each new story has its own form of momentum, this constant switching of focus has to make it nearly impossible to generate the type of overall momentum that will ultimately lead to self-satisfaction. What about NaNoWriMo? How does the extreme rush generated by writing a novel in a month translate into sustainable momentum?

For me, I plan to leverage the centrifugal force that propelled me out of 2010 into something unstoppable in 2011. I won’t allow my personal velocity to be dictated by individual achievements or disappointments. It’s much bigger than that.

Can you feel your own momentum?



PS. Don’t forget about the Significant Other Blogfest on January 21st.

21 comments

  1. I understand momentum. My writing receded a bit once NaNo ended, but I knew I couldn't keep up the pace. However, I did set a goal of a page a day and managed to finishe the first draft yesterday. Now I'm ready to roll right into revisions.

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  2. yes. And you know, even when I thought I'd lost it and followed that "write through it" advice, it worked. I think that's the key. Just keep swimming...

    Happy New Year, DL!!! :o)

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  3. Newton explains EXACTLY why I haven't finished my novel yet! But next semester I finally will have the time, and since I've made it my senior project for school, I'll have no choice but to finish it.

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  4. Momentum is huge! That's one of the reasons I love NaNo :) I have to get myself back into the routine again once the holiday season is over!

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  5. OTOH, too much momentum and you wind up forgetting to do important things, like paying bills, spending time with family, eating (wait--I did too much of that one).

    The best way to keep momentum (for me) is to have solid goals and deadlines. That makes things more urgent.

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  6. Planning, reading, writing, blogging, revising and being part of my family: I usually manage three on a good day ;)

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  7. Started out the day with a batch of queries. Lunchtime will be spent starting work on a new novel.

    Go momentum!

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  8. i don't think i typically have a momentum issues. In general i do what i want to do whenever. If i read just a page of a book a day, well at least i'll have the book completed by the end of the year

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  9. Momentum. That's exactly what I was lacking last year. Hopefully this year will be different. I hope you had a happy New Year!

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  10. Oh, yeah. Damn that momentum thing! I keep schlogging along, though. :-)

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  11. Wow, this was insightful! And eerily similar to my own goal for this year. Follow-Through. I can begin anything and even maintain it for a while.

    I fail at the follow through. I'm going to keep my aim pretty level in the beginning, I suppose until I gain sufficient momentum, and then I'll aim higher....

    Fantastic post!

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  12. This is such a timely post for me! My sister (also a writer) and I spent an hour and a half on the phone today talking about why we lose momentum on our writing projects. We agree that one of the biggest drags to pulling back our forward motion is the fear of not being good enough. I think recognizing what's constraining your creative momentum is half the battle.

    2011 is going to be a great year. I can feel it! Happy New Year :))

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  13. Thanks for this post! Momentum is such a huge part of everything we do and accomplish. It's definitely important to harvest our own momentum.

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  14. Forward momentum is something I've had a problem with in recent weeks. Here's to getting up, getting over it, and getting a move on!

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  15. For me, blogging steals my momentum. It's easier to write a short little post or to make a quick comment on someone's blog than it is to figure out how to make that next scene work.

    I know I need to cut back, but I'm fighting against it...

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  16. This is such a great post, and I can completely relate. Maintaining momentum is also something that I have struggled with, and something that I am determined to work on this year.

    I'm one of those writers who is constantly being lured away from one project to a new, exciting one, which leads to me never completing any project. One of my biggest goals for this year is to FINISH one project before moving on to the next.

    Good luck to you in the new year!

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  17. All that science and math talk made my head hurt. lol. Prob cuz I haven't had enough coffee yet today. That's MY momentum: flavored coffee. Give me a pot of java and a bottle of Eggnog creamer and I'm invincible!

    Happy New Year! Here's to you being a fighter jet in 2011. :)

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  18. I totally understand what you are saying. I have a hard time keeping the momentum going. I'll have to work on that in 2011. If I can get the momentum going and keep it going, I can accomplish so much more this year!

    Thanks for blogging about this.

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  19. Yeah, coffee is my momentum.
    I make time to read at least an hour every single day, even if I haven't had more than an hour of sleep. I read on the treadmill. (you could do audio books on your commute)

    Here's to 2011 and forward motion. :)

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  20. momentum is definitely one of the driving forces in anything I do. It often takes me a while to get started on any new project and to get it running at any decent pace, but once it's going, you'd better get out of the way because it's not stopping no matter what. :)

    With writing, this is especially dangerous if my wife needs me for something in the middle...because she'll watch as I sit at the keyboard for an hour or more just randomly typing (pounding/deleting) but once I finally get going I usually find my stride and don't want to stop. If anyone comes to interrupt when I'm sprinting along the keyboard, I'm usually a bit snippy.

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  21. If anyone needs a little extra push to keep up that momentum, just give me a shout. I'm here for you if you need me. :)

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