From Stop-Stutter-Start to Mad Momentum in Your Writing Career
Picture this scene …
A sunny park in Maryland …
Blue jays flitting through the yellowwood trees.
The laughter of children from a playground.
And one crazy lady spinning in a circle at breakneck speed, hollering for dear life.
It’s a true story. And I’m embarrassed to say that crazy lady was me.
The spinning came from a piece of playground equipment I climbed onto in an effort to show my four-year-old how to use it.
It was a cross between a one-person merry-go-round and a human-sized spinning top with a ledge for standing. The official playground terminology labels it a “whizzy-dizzy.”
Sounds fun, right?
The idea is that you step on, stick your bum out a bit, lean to the side, and the thing spins around. Supposedly, you can control your speed.
Except with me, not only did it spin, it spun so fast I looked like a figure skater on dry ground.
Without knowing how it happened, I went into a rapid rotation, accelerating till I was just a blur.
I screamed in protest, my family howled with laughter, and the darn thing didn’t stop till I gave up and let it fling me unceremoniously off to one side.
It was a little funny, a little painful, and a pretty stellar example of how sometimes, power builds if you can just hold on long enough.
Because the real force at play that day was momentum.
Flip that over to our writing world for a minute … It’s full of polarities, wouldn’t you agree?
We’ve got feast vs. famine … generalized vs. specialized … writer’s block vs. flying fingers.
And the overall consensus is that you should seek balance to even out the poles …
But consider this alternative viewpoint: Master momentum and balance may just happily appear.
First, think of momentum as a way to increase your forward motion by leveraging your existing motion.
If you can do this in your writing projects, it makes everything easy. After all, it’s a lot harder to stop something completely and then start it back up again.
(That’s true for a rolling ball … for your writing muscles … and for most relationships.)
The only hurdle is getting started in the first place, so you can get to that place where momentum builds naturally.
Here’s how you get there:
Step #1: Cut the negative self-talk. It only pulls you backwards.
That means you shouldn’t beat yourself up for things you can’t change. Put the past in the past. And stow any self-doubt far away with it.
Think of that whole pandemic year we all endured. A lot of things went south or fell by the wayside. I bashed myself plenty for letting things slip … but you know what? The world was on pause and the fallout upended plans across the globe.
You can’t beat yourself up for things you can’t control. Move forward.
Step #2: Get some small wins under your belt.
Remember, your ultimate goal is to build momentum, but that can’t happen till you get going in the first place.
Landing a tiny victory is the most effective way to do that. It doesn’t take a lot of time or effort, but a win is a win.
In writing, that might mean you journal every day for a week. It might mean you finish a writing training program. It could be that you post a few times in one of the AWAI Facebook groups.
It could even just be you, looking in the mirror and repeating an affirmation every day for a month. I will succeed as a paid writer. I will succeed as a paid writer.
The confidence you’ll get from these initial accomplishments helps you move forward to bigger tasks.
Step #3: Dabble in rewards.
Rewards are nice at face value, but more importantly, they’re good for your brain. Think of it as cellular-level validation for something you did right.
That validation builds confidence and makes your brain want to do it again.
So when you accomplish something, own it. Acknowledge it. Say it out loud!
Making a writing list of small wins at the end of every day is a great way to reinforce productivity (I recommend this over the celebratory tub of ice cream).
You can also share your accomplishments with friends or family. It’s good practice for you to own your wins out loud and proud, and good for your people to understand that your efforts are paying off. (And post your wins big and small in the AWAI Facebook groups, where we’re ready to cheer you on.)
Step #4: Roll it into a habit.
Once you’ve tipped the momentum wheel forward, model it into a habit. So, say you got through those 30 days of affirmations … now just treat it as something you do every morning, like brushing your teeth.
The best way to turn something into a habit is to do it daily on a consistent schedule. I recommend getting your habits going in the early hours before the day gets away from you.
Step #5: Throw some pride in there.
Piggybacking on Step #1, this one goes a little further. Beyond not tearing yourself down, it’s also important to lift yourself up. Be proud of what you’re doing. Give yourself compliments.
Taking pride in your work subconsciously reinforces the effort you’re making to do the work and lets your subconscious brain know that it’s a safe path to continue traveling.
Step #6: Give yourself a break.
As in literally, take breaks. Take evenings off. Or whole weekends. Or an entire week away, unplugged.
Momentum is powerful, but you keep any machine running too long and it’ll eventually burn out. Recharging is a necessity of being human.
That might mean taking a 30-minute walk in the middle of your day, away from screens and emails.
Or it might mean not turning on your computer over the weekend.
And if you’re wondering how to reconcile that with the regular daily habits you’re supposed to follow, it’s okay to pick and choose.
So if one of your daily habits is to say five affirmations out loud, you can still do that, even on the weekend and vacations. If another habit is to reach out to two prospective clients each day, you can pause that on your days off.
Think of momentum like your “easy button.” Once you get it wired right, it makes every aspect of your writing career more effortless and enjoyable.
You just have to hold on long enough to get to the point where you keep spinning effortlessly, and the ride becomes enjoyable.
Do you have any questions about gaining momentum in your writing career? Share with us in the comments so we can help.
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