If you’re not the type of writer who writes every day, then you’re probably looking for ways to motivate yourself to write more often, write more consistently, and keep the momentum going once you do write.
I actually don’t recommend writing daily. I don’t run every day either. These passions practically require rest days. Rest days for running might look like going for a walk, swimming, playing volleyball, riding a bike, or doing yoga. Rest days for your writing might look like creating a character sketch, researching details for your setting, or brainstorming title ideas.
The bad thing that sometimes happens is our rest days turn into a week, a month, a year, or even a decade of NO WRITING. That’s where motivation and momentum come into play. How do you get back to your writing and keep the momentum going?
Motivation vs. Momentum
When it comes to motivation and momentum, it helps to define the terms. Motivation is the inspiration and the why behind an action. It’s the positive feeling that helps push you out of inaction, which is often part of your safe comfort zone, and into action, which is sometimes uncomfortable or even scary. But it’s the action that gets results.
Momentum is the action. Motivation is what you want. Momentum is how you get there. Momentum is the force that keeps you going until you reach your desired result. Momentum is showing up for your training runs each day of the week so you can finish the race with a good time.
It may seem as though motivation comes first. And usually it does. But think about this: which comes first, the chicken or the egg? When we move closer to our goals, we tend to feel a sense of accomplishment. This, in turn, creates a feeling of motivation. Thus, our momentum also leads to more motivation to keep going, thus creating more momentum. It’s a really strong positive cycle when it’s activated.
Why is Momentum So Important?
While motivation is what gets you started, momentum is even more important. The first step to running a race is to sign up or register for it. Then you train. Then on race day, you cross the starting line and put one foot in front of the other until you cross the finish line. While running the race, you gain momentum. You might get faster or stronger as time goes on.
Even when you hit the wall, you’re getting closer and closer to the finish line, and you become less likely to stop. Momentum creates habits that bring you closer to your goals. Momentum is a key component for success. It’s almost another way to define persistence. So keep writing until you can write THE END.
Every time you switch your focus from your goal and allow yourself to get distracted or let your rest days go longer than a week, you lose a portion of the energy moving you forward. You lose momentum when you lose your focus.
How to Create Lasting Momentum in Your Writing
First, you have to be motivated to get started. If you’re struggling with this, attending a writing retreat can really get you motivated to take action, whether that be to write a new manuscript or finish an existing one before the retreat or even to work on your manuscript while you’re there. Especially retreats that provide plenty of free time to work on your writing, such as the Writers Who Run Retreat. Get clear about not only your goals, but also your big why. Start writing!
Second, don’t allow yourself to get distracted and lose focus. Celebrate your wins! And I mean all of your wins, big or small. Your wins will feed the feedback loop of motivation, momentum, motivation, momentum.
Third, attend a writing retreat. While they can provide motivation to help you get back into your writing practice, once you’re at the retreat, you’ll be writing every day, gaining momentum. You’ll be celebrating small wins every day and feeding that positive feeling of accomplishment.
You’ll face your fears, make new friends, and create lasting memories that will help you stay focused in the face of distractions, give you more energy to keep going, and provide lasting momentum for at least another year so you can reach your goals faster. And the faster you work toward a goal, the more momentum you create. See you in July!
Keep writing, keep running.
I majored in Creative Writing in college so I quickly got used to giving and receiving critiques without making them personal. But for a lot of writers, that’s a difficult thing to accomplish, especially in the beginning.
I have friends who have told me their horror stories: showing up for their first-ever in-person professional writing critique, only to retreat to their room and cry for hours. But they said as hard as it was to hear the feedback, the person giving it was absolutely correct. My friends’ eyes were opened to how much work they had to do and how much they had to learn about writing.
It’s not so much about how to give a critique or how to implement someone else’s suggestions, but how to prepare mentally to receive one in the first place (or 21st place) so that you don’t take it personally.
After all, writing is about the READER.
The Importance of Getting a Critique
Beta readers and critique partners are the lifelines to taking your writing to the next level. Without feedback on your manuscripts, it’s hard to see your blind spots. Do you need help with characterization, plot, setting, tense, verb choice, weak sentence structure, point of view, theme, voice?
Getting a critique, or any kind of feedback (from another writer) is especially helpful in making your writing the best it can be. The reader needs to understand your story, poem, essay, or book in as few words as possible. And of course, when an editor gets a hold of your writing, there will be even more revision work to do. And you’ll be prepared for it.
When you’re able to accept constructive criticism (i.e. a critique), you’ll experience the following benefits…
Prepare to Receive Writing Feedback
Getting in the right mindset to receive feedback for your manuscript will help you incorporate the advice without taking it personally. Some feedback will resonate with you more than other comments. Remember that you don’t have to make every single change that is suggested to you. Knowing this makes it easier to hear the feedback without getting defensive.
If you feel the need to explain yourself, don’t. To put it simply, your writing wasn’t clear. Revise your writing so it’s clear to the reader. Be aware of your emotional state and create a positive mindset. You can prepare to receive feedback by adopting the following mantras.
Getting Your Manuscript CritiquedAttending a writing retreat can be a safe place to find a new reader for your manuscript. Especially if you don’t know where else to look for feedback. Getting feedback from other writers is extremely important. Your family and friends may love you, but if they aren’t writers, or at the very least avid readers, they won’t be able to point out where your writing falls short or give suggestions for how to improve it.
No matter where you find a beta reader or a critique partner, keep the following tips in mind so that you take their feedback personally.
Give yourself some space to feel the pain. Then when you’re ready, pick yourself up and dust off the negativity so you can dive into your manuscript with fresh eyes and start making improvements. Start with the ones that make sense and resonate with you. Then keep going.
Keep writing, keep running.
Christie Wright Wild
Founder, Writers Who Run
Creator, Plot Like a Novelist
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