Momentum: What It Is and How to Get It

Everything worth doing in life is a marathon, but those things are usually divided into a bunch of smaller sprints. The point is that if you want to win the prize, you have to be prepared to not only run but finish the race in first place. You gotta be willing to work for your room and board.

And now that I’m done wasting time with metaphors, I’ll now give you my meaning in plain English: if writing is a race, then momentum is essential. You might have heard me speak of “warming up” and you may have felt it yourself on occasion. Regardless, you want to be “warmed up” to your writing as quickly as possible.

There comes a time in a writing session when the words start to flow easier. Dialogue begins to manifest naturally, battle scenes are no longer a slog, and you’re generally feeling good about writing. This is more likely to happen after an hour or so of continuous writing than it is when you wake up in the morning. (Shocker, I know)

This occurs at different times for various people. For me, it usually happens around forty-five minutes in but twice that long if I’m feeling particularly lazy. It also depends on how intensely you’re writing at a time: you can catch fire in just as little as twenty minutes if you write a steady stream of consciousness onto paper.

Some people have a kind of nervous tic that they do when they’ve gained momentum. For me, I bounce my one leg touching the ground. It’s something you may or may not do unconsciously because you’re enjoying something. But if you learn to recognize what it is, you’ll be able to gauge how much momentum you’ve got by observing the tic. However, this doesn’t work for everyone.

Losing your momentum is actually very easy: distressingly easy, in fact. If you stop for a minute or two, you may feel it beginning to wane. If you take the moment to give yourself a five-minute mini-break, you’ll come back and be as unwilling to write as you were an hour ago.

Make no mistake: don’t toy with momentum. It’s a powerful weapon that anyone can take advantage of without any training, and is present in all forms of writing done over a long stretch of time. Even if you don’t have this crazy deadline, you should learn to appreciate momentum: just hold on a bit longer, and you’ll be well-rewarded for your efforts.

Even as a writer, you should be taking all the free stuff you can get. View it as a trade offer: do I click away to this other tab and lose my momentum, or hang on to it and write a few hundred words in twenty minutes? Don’t get distracted in the heat of the moment: that’s when you can get the most work done.

However, eventually your momentum will run out. For me, it usually tanks towards the end of the day when I’m most tired. You can feel your will to write draining out, gradually dissipating similar to the process that gained you your momentum. There’s nothing more you can do about this: it’s nature’s way of telling you to be done for the day. Of course, if needed, you could push past this period, but that might result in burnout. Do whatever you think is prudent.

As for maintaining momentum, the formula is simple: just don’t stop. Even stopping to correct minor spelling errors can result in a loss of momentum. The real killer is when you sit at the keyboard and stare at the screen because you’ve been held up on a thought for too long. Writers do this pretty often, but the solution is to implement the first thought that comes to mind. You can always go back and edit it later.

Momentum can carry you a long way by itself. It’s a free byproduct of diligent work. if you’ve got it, hold on until your mind decides it’s done writing. Or if you’re the persistent type, consider writing past it. I guess the point neatly summed up is this: recognize momentum and remember to use it to your advantage. Don’t waste it when you don’t have to.

That’s all.


Be sure to check out my latest novel, Book 1 in the Praetors of Lost Magic Series, and our Publications page. Plus, I mean, it wouldn’t hurt to check out the Resources tab. It’s full of super helpful material and I promise it will help you out. Until then, writers!


Published by Van Ghalta

A cold, dark, mysterious character who purposefully wrote a story so that he could fit into it...A story where he himself WRITES stories, practices martial arts, blogs, plays airsoft, collects MTG trading cards, plays outdated video games, and writes weird, third-person bios for himself...

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