One of the biggest things I feared as I worked on my novel was losing momentum.
If a day went by when I didn’t work on the book, I could feel myself taking my foot off the gas and coasting. It felt. . . nerve-wracking.
Many people, when they learn I wrote a whole novel, are shocked at my dedication. I’ve explained before that it really wasn’t about commitment or dedication. Or at least it didn’t feel like it was. It was about momentum.
I know how to ride that feeling quite well. When I was a varsity swimmer, if I took a day off from training, I would feel restless and gross (a feeling I called “lumpy”). Those days of exercise and six-pack abs are long gone, but that sense of needing to keep plugging away at something, day in, day out, is still a part of me.
The primary motivation behind my momentum? Fear. The fear that if I let it go too long, I’ll give it up. I’ll forget about it. I’ll rationalize it away. Like most of us, I get excited about something, until something interrupts my interest. Then, rather than returning to it when I have the chance, I’ll wander on over to something else. It feels a bit like this Onion article, frankly.
Even though I managed to harness my momentum to finish the novel in under 2 years (and with what I’ve learned, I can certainly write the next book more efficiently and simply better), I worry about taking the next three weeks off from novel-writing. I want to start the next book in the series right away, but I’m forcing myself into a vacation mode, to allow the lessons learned to settle and my creative energy to replenish.
I worry, though, this is a folly. Part of me is screaming, “No! Keep going! You’ll fail if you don’t!” I, like many of us, am an expert in cutting myself down to size. Accusing myself of being short-sighted, flaky, and capricious, is exactly how I can destroy my own ambitions.
Continuing to blog during this downtime is helping. I also may work on a short story idea I’ve had for a while. Small things to keep the juices flowing without opening up the tap completely.
This downtime is a good exercise in learning to trust myself. I want to keep writing books, no doubt. So, I need to give myself the benefit of the doubt, that I will return to writing and that I will be back on track in no time. This isn’t a dead end, it’s a pit stop that will serve me in the long run. In the meantime, I’ll pour myself a mighty glass of eggnog, reply to some emails I’ve been putting off, and maybe even clean my room. Then maybe this evening I’ll write a haiku or two, to remind myself that writing is now a part of me, and that I can show it gratitude by demanding less of it for a short while.