You know what has momentum? A train. Those things don’t stop easily, not even when someone applies the brakes.
It’s my pleasure to tell you writing is much the same way.
Have you ever seen a train start rolling from a complete standstill? (Just in case you haven’t, here’s a video). Yowza. Trains are heavy. It takes a while to get that much mass in motion, but once it does, it’s almost impossible to stop.
This applies to us directly. For all writers, there will be a time you find yourself not writing. If it hasn’t happened to you yet, believe me, it will.
Life does that. It swamps you, trips you, chokes you, slows you down, and before you know what happened, your writing habits have died.
Like a train on the tracks going nowhere, your poor writing habits sit—powerful, but unproductive.
You need to start writing again. And just like a locomotive, your writing may take some real effort to get going.
How to Regain Your Writing Habits
So how do you do it? How do you regain momentum when you’ve come to a dead halt? It comes down to just a few simple things. Here are three keys to help you regain your writing habits:
The first key toward regaining your lost momentum is forgiving yourself.
- Forgive the days you didn’t write. They happen. They happen to all of us. Know that you’re not alone, and those empty days do not define you as a writer.
- Forgive the writing you produced that isn’t what you wanted. As I’m fond of saying, we all struggle because we almost never manage to create things good enough to satisfy our very refined taste. Ira Glass says it like this:
“Nobody tells this to people who are beginners, I wish someone told me. All of us who do creative work, we get into it because we have good taste. But there is this gap. For the first couple years you make stuff, it’s just not that good. It’s trying to be good, it has potential, but it’s not. But your taste, the thing that got you into the game, is still killer. And your taste is why your work disappoints you. […] It is only by going through a volume of work that you will close that gap, and your work will be as good as your ambitions. And I took longer to figure out how to do this than anyone I’ve ever met. It’s gonna take awhile. It’s normal to take awhile. You’ve just gotta fight your way through.”
- In other words, keep going. Keep writing, and what you create will match your taste in time. Ah, but how do you keep writing? With courage.
The second key toward regaining your momentum is courage.
- Write even when it’s like pulling teeth. Don’t skip it because you’re tired, or have fallen out of the habit. Especially don’t skip it when you hate what you’re writing. This can be really hard if your confidence has taken a hit, but you must write. I confess this is hard for me; I struggle with perfectionism, and there’s very little that kills momentum as quickly as perfectionism can.
- By the way, this means forgiving yourself again. Sometimes, what you write won’t be as good as you want it to be. Don’t let that stop you. Want to get better? Write more!
- Write. Write. Write. Make it a daily habit if you can, and as you do, you’ll find writing grows easier. You will gain momentum.
It’ll run right over pennies of doubt on your tracks, and if you do it long enough, it will even survive dynamite tossed by any resident crazy-makers. Start writing, and don’t give up.
3. Claim 2016 as Your Year!
2016 is your year to create that writing momentum.
Let me repeat that: 2016 is your year to create that writing momentum. If I can do it, so can you. There’s no better day than today to get started.
Are you ready to declare 2016 your year of momentum? Let us know in the comments.
Gaining momentum is about forgiving yourself and about courage. Head down to the comments section and forgive yourself for any disappointments in your writing life, then stand up boldy and claim “momentum” for 2016. No matter if your train is already chugging along or currently still on the tracks, it’s time to declare this as your year. Don’t forget to comment on three other declarations of self-forgiveness and courage, too!