Tuesday, November 16, 2010


You know what makes NaNoWriMo so popular? It's the catalyst that initiates momentum. No, I won't reach into Webster and define momentum. You know what it means. It's the inclination to keep going whether you're a rock navigating a hill or a writer pounding a keyboard. You don't want to stop.

Because when we stop, we miss that feeling - the rush. We bask in the memory of it, marveling at past productivity. We tell our friends about it. Brag about what we hope to do with the writing we birthed during that remarkable period.

But the momentum is gone.

You remember riding a bike. You worked your thighs to the burning point pumping up that hill then slowed and tipped over the top. With wind pricking tears in your eyes, you race with no effort as the work paid off, carrying you at a breakneck pace, the thrill filling your chest. You see the bottom approaching. Damn. Another hill. So before you reach the bottom, you start pedaling again, knowing the energy you churn into the wheels will carry you, keep you going to reach another peak. You can go on forever this way, each time attempting to improve how fast, how easily, how efficiently you reach that next high.

However, maybe you didn't plan for the next hill. You coasted down with good speed until you reached the bottom. Only then did you give it a go to climb the next rise only to have the bike stop, your legs unable to meet the challenge. You might back up the first hill a little, aiming for a little speed, maybe even making it a tad further up the rise. But you stop again. So you take your bike and go home.

In a perfect environment, momentum continues forever because of inertia = matter continuing in uniform motion unless acted upon by some outside force. Air, gravity and friction are the outside forces for a bike. Day jobs, naysayers, depression and lack of focus are the outside forces for a writer.

To maintain momentum, you have to keep pumping, planning for the hills. You write when you don't want to, when you think you don't have time, when you feel you're wasting time. You don't know if you have to pedal 25 times or a hundred, but you do it. You write rubbish, jewels and experimental material never knowing which works best for that future pinnacle in your career, but you write.

You can think about pedaling, plan to pedal, talk about pedaling, but guess what . . . it isn't the same as pedaling. Without the real deal, you can't make it up the hill.

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