How Not to Lose Momentum on a Writing Project After Starting It


"I'm pretty disciplined to keep the momentum of a story going by writing everyday, even if it's only a couple of paragraphs or a page or two." James Rollins

Recently I had to call a rescue service to move my unused car to another spot. The car had not been driven for many months and the battery had gone weak.

The mechanic who came to jump start the car said, "Don't stop anywhere and turn off your engine. If you do, you won't be able to start the car again."

So, I drove the car, keeping the foot firmly on the gas pedal, taking extra care not to let the engine die especially when I was going up a slope.

Even after I reached my destination, I was not hasty to turn the engine off. I made sure I got a suitable parking spot. Then I turned off the ignition.

As I was walking back home, I thought,"Maybe I should approach writing in the same manner. I shouldn't turn off the engine until there's nothing more to do."

Not that I don't already have momentum. The first thing I do daily after jumping out from bed is sit down and write. I do this 7 days a week just to keep my writing machine well-oiled. 


 But then I have to keep reminding remind myself to keep rekindling the fire. Why? In the past I had shot myself in the foot by letting  momentum die on some writing projects when the going got tough. All the initial work and effort gone down the drain for want of courage to continue.

If you've been writing for a while especially on big projects - novel, play, screenplay - which needs to be worked on over a period of time, you'll appreciate the need for maintaining momentum.


So, here are some pointers that can assist and inspire you  to keep moving until you see your writing project to completion.

Remind Yourself of The Effort to Get Started

Remind yourself the amount of time you put in to prepare and get started on the project. Are you going to let your hard work go to waste? 

Tell yourself that all you have to do now is keep the engine running by pouring as much fuel as possible into it  the form of words. Never mind if you can't write pages every day. Just a few paragraphs or a short scene would do on each day if the situation allows it.

Reignite the Initial Spark

It's easier to maintain momentum if you're charged up to write. How do you do it?  Play the movie of your excitement when you first started the project. This was when you had no obstacles or blocks to contend with. Imagine you are back in such a state. Done right, it will give you the needed inspiration to maintain the momentum. 

No Excuses

In my experience failing to maintain momentum comes as a result of giving the excuse of having something more important to do. A priority project. As you get sucked into it, you find your self sailing farther and farther away from the  project and then completely losing sight of it.

Then one day when you feel like going to it, you have to make great effort to get started because you've completely lost touch with it. Since you have to start from scratch, you find it difficult to get into the flow again.

If you like most writers, you'll come to the conclusion that it's not worth spending all the energy on the piece and you decide to give up on it.

Even if you've to go away and work something else, keep the project top of mind. Even if you can't continue, read through it to keep it fresh in your mind. While reading something may click in your mind and lead you to writing.

My Experience

I wrote a 20-page children mystery story a long while ago. When I was on page 17 or so, I stopped writing to concentrate on other projects. 

Now more than a year later, as I seek to complete the series, I find myself being a stranger to the story I've written.

Although I have an outline and could have written the remaining three pages in one sitting, I didn't. It was a terrible mistake. I could have written a paragraph a day and finished it a long time ago.
 

The experience taught me a good lesson - never to let anything hanging even if there's one page left to conclude the piece. For all of my other projects, I vow to keep the momentum going until a first draft is completed. Then if I lose the momentum, not much harm is done.

So, take a leaf from my experience. Whether your work is going well or not, promise yourself not to lose track of it. Keep at it until its done, no matter how dissatisfied you're with it. Embrace this challenge and you're a different breed of writer.