Momentum Part 1


Momentum, in context of writing, really covers two different ideas, one pertaining to the discipline of the craft, and the other to the craft itself. Next week, I’ll look at the role that momentum should play in fiction. This week, however, I wanted to look at how momentum affects the discipline of the craft.

Every time I mention the “discipline” of the craft, someone somewhere cringes. It used to be a term I threw around rather lightly, but I’ve since learned that several artists have a strong disliking for the word. By far, the most comments I’ve received since embarking on my weekly blog, was on “the habit of art” as Flannery O’Connor put it. I reinterpreted it loosely as the discipline of the craft. Many artists feel that “discipline” or “habit” or “writing when you don’t feel like it” is detrimental to the art itself, that it robs it of passion. While I hear their earnest dissent, I stand resolutely in favor of discipline. By far, the number one thing that ends a writing career before it begins is the lack of discipline. No publisher has ever paid for an incomplete novel. Go ahead, check the books.

So then, our first task as writers must be to complete a project. Once done, then we can revise and check to make sure that passion we feel for the project is clear on every page. But here’s the catch—the longer you spend not writing, the more your passion wanes. Stephen King backs me up on this. In his book On Writing, he discusses the importance of writing daily. When you do so, he asserts, you remain immersed in the world and it takes a much shorter amount of time to delve into that world each day, and to keep the passion for that world, those characters, and that story alive and well. If you think of the writing of a novel as a relationship, what kind of relationship would you have if you didn’t daily spend time with your significant other? Would your novel divorce you on the grounds of abandonment? I reckon many of ours would. I have several failed novels. I often think about going back and finishing them, but every time I do, I worry. I’ve been away from them so long, it’s like I don’t even know them anymore. I would have to start from scratch.

Make it your goal to spend time in your novel every day. Take a day off if you have to, but never more than two in a row. Monitor how long it takes you to get back into the swing of writing after a few days off—it’s infinitely harder. What you’ll find with consistency is that your passion will increase, as will your word count, as will the quality of your writing. So, stop reading this, and get on your skateboard, and take the plunge down the hill. Get that momentum working for you. Your novel will thank you.

8 thoughts on “Momentum Part 1”

  • This blog realy made me think about my novel im writing and its true when you take to much time away from your writing it realy is hard to start again. So you realy have to stay on top of it and not slack off. I still have some trouble with this, but i hope I get better.

  • I know you always say that we should write constantly no matter if we feel like it or not. But for me I can only write when I’m inspired. When I’m inspired I get ideas about what to write in my story. I can’t just sit down and write when I don’t know what to write. That’s probably not a good thing. Usually when I write a story I write one chapter and then procrastinate for a year. Then after that year I look over what I write then want to start over, which means procrastinating for longer. I usually never get three chapters done before I stop.

  • Writing every day is easier said than done. With school, work, friends, family, and other obligations taking up our time, it can be hard to get the creative juices flowing. But it doesn’t have to be.
    Write about everything. Write about sad things, happy things, confusing things, things that make you wonder. Write about that hot guy or gal that sits a few rows over in your math class. Write about how you still haven’t forgotten how much it hurt when that kid made fun of you back in elementary school. Write about what’s going on in the news. Now, take those words and twist them. Write a story about it. It doesn’t have to be epic or heartbreaking or hilarious. You can work on making it those things when you’re done. But first, get those words flowing. And if you get stuck, keep writing. You can always edit it at a later date.
    Write well, write often.

  • For me it’s a bit difficult to comprehend what’s really being said, but from what I understand Im not really into the novel writing I usually stick to songs, poems, a essays. But I do understand when said that its difficult to jump back into writing after letting it sit half way finished. With me it’s songs, I write everything down that I have in mind, sometimes I only have a chorus or Few lines and when I return to finish its hard to and I end up getting different ideas.

  • Whenever I have the time, I write as much as I can.
    With school work and senior project, I’ve had a really difficult time writing at all. It’s very sad.
    I wish that I could write everyday, but there really is no way that I can squeeze that in at this moment.
    I’m hoping that once summer hits, I’ll be able to write as often as I want.
    I used to write every single day, so I’m pretty deprived.
    The great thing with your class is that with every prompt that we’ve been given, I have been able to write for my novel.
    Many of our prompts are actually going to make it into my novel–I’m so excited!

  • It’s impossible to constantly write all the time forever because you wouldn’t get any inspiration. I always need to take breaks to think about what I should write

  • I dont really write much, but since im in expository reading and writing one of the tasks to my senior project is to write a research paper, and im able to find a way to organize it properly that way i can keep my audience interested in it.

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