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For musings on a messy writing life, the inspiration for Stella Rose, and the arduous journey to publication, along with side rants on family, pets, gardening, Vermont, and various other topics.

Home » Managing an unruly manuscript – or life: Tip #3 Momentum

Managing an unruly manuscript – or life: Tip #3 Momentum

Fifty Thousand Words in a month – instant momentum, right?

For me, winning NaNoWriMo wasn’t enough to keep my life from stopping me cold. Those of you familiar with the erratic nature of my process understand how susceptible I am to the vagaries of circumstance and distraction. Add to this a crippling sense of dread, thinking my shitty first draft was, indeed, shittier than even the intrepid Anne Lamott could salvage, and I had the makings of a complete failure to launch.

Steve Jurvetson
FlickrSteve Jurvetson

Then my writing buddy, Sarah Ward (author of Stone Sisters), announced she had her house to herself and we were going to have a mini retreat. Robyn Young  (owner of and blogger for MoneyCare) joined us. Sarah started us off with a creativlity exercise.

I hate creativity exercises.

But I was dreading revisiting my manuscript even more, so I played along, flipping through dozens of magazines, cutting out pictures for a collage that could be about writing or life, which I soon found blurry in distinction. We devoted an hour of the agenda to this exercise. Three crazy fun hours later, my imaginations was thrumming:


And for the first time since November 30, I felt like a writer who felt like writing.

We settled in our respective nests and went to work. I pulled up the NaNaWriMo version of Novel #2, saved a new version under the working title, and stared at page 1. Then page 2. And 3, 4, 5 – making little adjustments here and there, and some notes, but mostly reading to reacquaint myself with the story.

Then I felt it. A sense of excitement, similar to what I felt when writing Stella Rose.

This could be good. This could be really good.

I wrote for hours. I wanted to write for days.

Stella Rose took me five years. I want this novel to take two. As with any of life’s endeavors, the difference will be the ability to establish and maintain momentum.

Sheila Sund
FlickrSheila Sund

Five ways to maintain momentum:

Go public. When I was ready to get down to brass tacks with STELLA ROSE, I announced it on Facebook and Twitter, and sent an email to all my personal contacts. I asked you to hold me accountable.  Boy, did you ever.

Go for it. Write fearlessly to keep myself surprised and coming back for more.

Go big/long. I’m a binge writer, preferring large swaths of time to sink into the work. Writing retreats – weekends or week long – luxury! Or long afternoons at Phoenix Books.

Go back. Revise Revise Revise

Go often. Despite the foregoing declared preference for binge writing, showing up consistently is the most effective way to get me to the finish line in two years. Truthfully, it’s the only way. #assinthechair

Wish me luck!

How about you – How do you maintain momentum in your endeavors of the heart?


Flickr pics:


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