Momentum: Keeping the writing spirit alive


I’ve been away with work all this week and haven’t had a chance to think about writing or my book. I’ve either been travelling (dull), in meetings (various levels of interest depending on who with), in the bar (unwinding, drinking beer and/or eating), or sleeping. It’s been a fairly exhausting week.

I’ve returned home and have tried to pick up where I left off, but with such a break, I’ve lost all the momentum I had last week. I took my notebooks with me but didn’t have a moment to do anything productive. You might think that the time spent drinking beer would have been perfect time to do some writing, develop a character or work on the plot lines, but it never happened. I was tired and just needed downtime.

This is life. We need a balance between the various different parts of our lives or nothing will function properly. So what is the best way to get the right balance?

At the moment, I have a lot of different thoughts going on with my book. I have a rough outline of the plot along with who will be involved in it. I dip in and out of ideas and write as my whim takes me. This is great when I have time to sit and think and write, but what about when I only have the occasional half hour here or there to attend to the book? I need more structure.

Everything I have done to date is at a top level, bird’s eye view of the project as a whole. If I want this to succeed then I need to become more granular about all the aspects of the story. I know that I have a world, but what fills it? There must be hundreds of houses, shops, roads, signposts in a town. The countryside needs fields and trees, hills and valleys, even cliffs and mountains where necessary. There needs to be weather. How do all these things interact with each other?

Going granular

The granular level says that one character must live in one house and go to a series of other locations. These other locations will be owned, run or visited by other people. So why not take the main character and describe where he fits in, concentrating on his detail and bringing in other people and other locations as I go. This means there will be a definite path to complete the structure behind all the different places in the story. In short, I am preparing the scaffolding for the story, but in an organised fashion.

So how does this help my motivation? It doesn’t, I still need to motivate myself to write, even when I’m tired or only have a small window of opportunity. The good news is that I won’t have to think about what I’m going to write about as it will follow on from the last thing that was written.

I read that a good way to bring back the thoughts of a previous writing session is to stop in mid dialog. A conversation is very emotive and it should be easy to pick up what the characters motivations were in the follow up writing session. I think my motivation will come through ending a writing session with the plan of what needs to be described next. That way I will be able to pick up from where I left off, perhaps by writing about a shop the protagonist is about to visit, or about the character that is going to give him his next bag of magic beans.

Leave me a comment below if you have other opinions around how to keep the momentum of writing alive whilst maintaining the balance with everything else going on in your world.


2 thoughts on “Momentum: Keeping the writing spirit alive

  1. Mid-conversation isn’t a bad idea. I once stopped writing in mid-combat; that was less helpful.

    What works for me, though, is to finish the section satisfactorily (so that I get the nice ‘I did something!’ feeling) but then append a bunch of notes to the end of the file about where I want to go with this next. I currently have three different notes at the end of my Book 3 file — one about weather and metaphysical conditions in the locale everyone has ended up, one about a character’s motivations and his plans for the future, and one a quote I want to fit into the text somewhere soon and am just seeking an opening. I have another file full of my outline-related notes, but these are ideas that cropped up as I was writing the stuff I just finished, so they’re direct ties to the previous part, yet spark further writing.

  2. I think I need the “I’ve finished” satisfaction of writing a whole section. As for keeping notes, I am completely on your wavelength with this – I write notes in the document as I go along which get pushed down the page as I write. When I get to the end I delete what’s no longer relevant and add in a next steps section and then put it away till next time.

    To be honest, I’ve been learning loads from this little project – mainly forcing myself to think about the process of writing rather than flitting around the edges as I’ve done in the past. However, your organisation of your writing and how you go about it is something else and I’m really enjoying the spark in my thinking that I’m getting out of reading your thoughts, ideas and work. Thanks!!

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