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.