Wednesday, January 20, 2010


Momentum is a fickle thing.

Your best friend when you've got it, or at least when it's moving in the right direction, and your worst enemy when it's stalled.

But the really great thing about momentum (sometimes) is that once it gets moving, it keeps itself moving and even builds. Until, of course, it decides to stall out and stop. Fickle.

And yes, I am trying to project control of my brain's and fingers' collective ability to get pages done on this new WIP onto some outside force. Trying to make it "not my fault". But the truth is that I've been struggling getting going on this one, and can hardly blame momentum. Inertia maybe? Something in science must be to blame, because it can't possibly be my creative juices, or my dedication, or my work ethic. ;-)

According to my trusty spreadsheet/plan, I was supposed to complete the first draft of said WIP by, well, tomorrow. And let me tell you, even if I pulled an all nighter, that ain't gonna happen.

But I did finally feel today (yesterday) like I finally found some forward momentum. Yippee!

Any tips for keeping it rolling in the right direction?


Karen Whiddon said...

Maureen, if you get tips, I want `em. Like you, I'm trying to work on a contracted book. It's due May 1st, 70,000 words. In the past two weeks I've written six pages. Six pages. Come on. I'm exhausted and burned out and while this sounds like it could be a good story, I'm not getting into it.

So please, I'm with you. Any tips would be much appreciated.

Sinead M said...

None.. absolutely no tips.. I am the queen of anti-momentum..


Eileen said...

A few years ago, I went to a workshop on writing faster given by Susan Mallery. Her plan was, at its heart, simple and straightforward and reminded me a lot of trying to add mileage to my long runs.

You start out writing 3 or 4 pages a day for a week. The next week, you write 4 or 5 pages a day. The week after that, it's 5 or 6 pages a day. The pages can be crap, but you don't stop until you've written them. You just keep adding to your daily page goal and the momentum builds itself.

Susan recommended not succumbing to those days when you could write 15. She felt you'd be tapped out the next day.

It works. When I'm in what I think of as "production" mode on a book, it's exactly what I do. The kicker is that I'm pretty much the same with writing as I am with running. Once I hit around 10 pages a day (or 10 miles or so), I can't push myself much farther. Still, 10 pages a day with all the other things I have on my plate is pretty solid.

Susan had a whole year's schedule thing with time slotted in for proposal writing and editing. My problem is that I can't write a proposal that fast. It's not a two week process for me.

The happy thing is I've found this works even when I'm not feeling it. If I can force myself to write those two or three crap pages every day for a week, the story begins to resolve itself for me.

Stephanie Doyle said...

Let's see... I was supposed to be 3 chapters in to my new WIP but I - like Karen -have written 6 pages. 6 pages in 3 weeks. Unbelievable.

I'm not contracted so slacking of course is acceptable in this case - excpet I promised myself no slacking.

No slacking. Bad slacker.

As for tips I fall back to Nora Roberts who says... Put your ass in the chair and write. Anything else is an excuse.

That said - I'm also a big believer in cutting yourself some slack sometimes too. You can't be on all the time.

Karen - you're on crazy deadlines. Take two weeks off and worry about it in February. You'll be fresher.

Maureen - you're deadlines are even crazier. So you only get two days off. Take some time to pat yourself on the back for getting the first one done.

Enjoy it. Breathe. Take a nap.

Then get back to work.

I'm taking a vacation day tomorrow for that very reason. Just to jump start my story. If you all see me posting at 3:00 or 4:00 tomorrow... yell at me.

Molly O'Keefe said...

Eileen is right about the Susan Mallery stuff - displine is the only answer. Blows chunks, but it's true. Getting in the Zone, or getting to where the momentum handles itself, either come naturally or you have to force it.
Because it's about loving your project and getting past the problems in your head, or in your idea and committing to working it out. Otherwise we'd dick around forever.

Maureen McGowan said...

Thanks guys. I've been to that Susan Mallery talk, too. And did the build it up every week thing with the first book in this contract. Problem was, I only gave myself two weeks TOTAL to draft this second one. And then started late because I took right up to my deadline to deliver the first book (as opposed to finishing early like I'd planned) and then had to spend some time plotting.

I think my expectations for myself were too high for this second one. (How's that for stating the obvious.)

But it's 75K, due March 3rd and I'm, um, not nearly at 75K yet. And revision is normally a huge part of my process, and I also need to do my editor revisions on the first book (due Feb 2).

SO.... No days off. And no slow build to a higher daily target. And no stopping myself on purpose on days when I'm getting a lot done. (As logical as it all sounds.)

I simply can't. Even though a big part of me thinks it might help to at least take a day off at some point.

That's part of the stress thing I was talking about in our live DWT last week. I resolved to stop being in such a panic about it and just trust that it'll get done. Panic not my friend. Panic makes me want to play solitaire which tends to wipe my brain of all other thoughts.

Deep breaths. Deep breaths. I got about 4200 words done yesterday. Still haven't hit the 5K a day goal I set myself to finish first draft in 2 weeks, (ending today), but at least it's moving fwd.

Eileen said...

Maureen, you can totally round up 4200 to 5000! Ta da! You met your goal!

Panic is not a good thing. Whatever you have to do to slay that monster is a good thing. I run. When things get really bad and I'm really stressed, you will find me on the bike paths of Davis (or on the treadmills of the gym if the weather is crazy sucky). Sometimes taking the time to exercise from a too busy day seems counter-intuitive, but I find it makes me more effective. And happier. And less of an insomniac.

Maureen McGowan said...

I think that's exactly right, Eileen. Except I haven't been doing it. I should.

Exercise is such a good thing.

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