Lost steam? Here's one way to create momentum again.

Momentum can feel like such a fickle friend, can't it? You go to a retreat, get inspired, head home, lose focus. You start a piece, feel energized by your progress, and then life pulls you away. You can't seem to pick your writing back up again. Or there's my preferred form of avoidance--writing a full draft, setting it aside, then having a hard time revisiting it.

One client recently told me she needed a magic potion to recreate her momentum. And you know what? We found one. Writing.

I know, I know. So cheesy to put it like that, but bear with me. Writing really is the anecdote for lost momentum.

MOMENTUM SLOWS TO A HALT UNDER THE WEIGHT OF EXPECTATIONS.

Whenever I talk to writers who are stuck, they're focused on getting things right.

  • The retreat participant wants to recapture what it felt like to be at that retreat, so clear in her vision for her book, and get it on the page as she saw it then.
  • The writer in the middle of an essay wants to remember exactly what she was going to write next, before she got derailed.
  • The author getting ready to rewrite the first draft of his piece wants to make sure it's worthwhile--that things come together in a meaningful way.

That desire to get things right leads to re-reading, incessant planning, and too much thinking, all in an effort to figure out how the story will come together before you start writing. And because you can't figure out how that's going to happen, writing feels hard.

It's an understandable approach. You remember what it felt like to have momentum, and you want to feel that way again. But the truth is that you didn't know anymore about your writing then than you do now. You'd simply gotten in the flow of creativity.

MOMENTUM HAPPENS WHEN YOU ASK YOURSELF, "BASED ON WHAT I KNOW NOW, WHAT CAN I WRITE NEXT?"

If your outlines, plans, or expectations make the process of writing feel heavy, what can you do to make it feel light?

My client looking for that magic potion said she would set aside her outlines, jot a couple ideas at the top of the page and write from there--write to get her heart onto the page.

I thought that was a brilliant idea, because it will get her back to the page and into the flow of her own creativity. What about you? If you set aside your expectations, what can you do to make writing feel fun?