M&M: Part 1 – Momentum
Me thinks you suddenly crave chocolate but I can tell you it is not the next topic of conversation. It’s just another poorly chosen acronym by yours truly. Over the next two posts I want to discuss M&M (Momentum and Motivation) as they relate to any given writing project – Your Project. When I think of these two factors and how they appear and affect me as I work through a series of chapters, I notice that it’s very difficult to have one without the other in writing. They are not mutually exclusive. They are entwined.
In the simplest of terms you cannot build momentum in your work without first exercising motivating factors. I won’t dwell on motivating factors in this post because there is literally a rainbow of shades in terms of motivating oneself. I’m not strictly talking about lighting a slow burning fire under your arse either but I’m sure someone’s tried that to add pep to their step (or is that hype to their type?). First I want to talk about the lesser spoken of the two M’s for ‘Momentum’ itself can be a motivating factor – once you have it. In this way they are connected.
Right so let’s picture it now. You’ve got the first few chapters written. The main characters are introduced. Their personalities are known to the reader. A portrait of the setting is painted. It’s time to really get the players in your world interacting. Not a problem right? Well as it happens it’s at this moment some writers may really slow. See the middle section of the book is sometimes the part of the book the writer does the least ‘living’ in and so they can lose the story…and then the plot…and then all that good momentum. What you find is that in your mind you’ve lived through the intriguing beginning and the dramatic ending but not necessarily the actions in between. You begin to let certain actions go because they don’t feel right and soon the plot has taken a deviation.
In truth deviations aren’t all dead ends. There is room for real creativity there but how can you join that beginning to that ending and in a reasonable time frame. Well here’s three things that might just get you the momentum you need:
- Stick to the story: This does not have to be as rigid as I make out but if you’re an absolute beginner you may have been ruminating over a story idea for some time. In that instance go with your gut. That story (the very bones of it) should be mostly adhered to through that rough draft process. If you are unhappy with it at the end, that is another story (literally) but at least you will have got to the end while sticking fairly closely to the plan.
- Write every day: I know I have said this a few times. Any writer will tell you the same and you may take this to mean: plan out a novel idea, write in my journal, write my aunty a letter and so on but once you have actually started your project give it some attention every day. It might be a paragraph it might be a page but it’s the consistency that gathers momentum. It doesn’t have to be perfect every time. Its just like the days of the week. Sometimes writing days are going to feel like Mondays and sometimes they are going to feel like Fridays.
- Finally are the reminders. This is a control mechanism of sorts. Why do I need control? Well some of us don’t, however if you have real momentum and you literally don’t want to step away from the laptop for fear of losing it again, reminders can be the perfect friend to help you pick up right where you left off. In ‘Something of Note’ I mention summarising chapters. Well I do this before I start each chapter on the laptop as well. Using square brackets I précis the chapter in just a few lines. This follows me down as I type, always at the bottom of my latest line and always within eyeshot. It helps you to stick to the story but it also helps you when you have finished up for the day. At the end of each session add further square bracket appendices as you move through the chapter. On them write down what you want to focus on the next time you sit down to write . This can be specific or generalised but what you will find is that the momentum will remain.
Right that’s my two cents. Next week is motivation…and you can be damn sure it has nothing to do with herbal tea.