Have you ever noticed how the more you sleep, the more you want to sleep? You wake up late on a Sunday morning and instead of feeling energized and ready to tackle the day because of all the extra hours in bed you got, all you want to do is roll over again and tell those bloody kids to shut up.
It’s the same with food. You live on salad for a week and strangely enough, your body stops demanding bread and butter and anything sweet within a three-mile radius. Then your boyfriend makes you a nice mutton curry one night and you gorge on it, only to find in the morning that you’re starving.
And, of course, it’s the same with writing. The more you write, the more you want to write. The more you will write.
There’s science behind it. You sleep more after you’ve rested on that Sunday morning because you’ve finally allowed your body to relax and it’s playing catch-up. You’re feeling hungrier after a meal filled with high sugar and fat content because they encourage what Dr. Louis J. Aronne, the author of “The Skinny,” calls fullness resistance. Foods high in refined carbohydrates stop your hormones from sending a message to the brain saying, “That’s it, we’re full. Wrap it up.” So you feel hungrier instead.
And the writing? It’s this sneaky little thing called momentum.
It’s one of the hardest things for any writer, building this momentum. You’ll be racing along at 1,000 words a day on your novel (if you want to know how to write 1,000 words a day, every day, read this) and after a busy week at work, you come back to find that you’re feeling a bit disconnected from the characters, that the subplot that you thought was so clever when you first conceived of it is actually overdone and trite.
It is momentum that has you sending out 23 query letters in a week until three rejections arrive all at once bringing that wonderful run to a screeching halt. It’s why you find that you knocked down three deadlines in one week and then none for the next two.
The good news? You can learn how to build momentum and to keep it going even when that moody muse of yours is nowhere to be found.
You’ve heard most of the ideas before—set targets, plan your projects, have multiple ideas on the go, etc. (Here are some more ideas on how to finish every project you start.) But how do you build momentum into your every day? How do you ensure that from the moment you step foot into your office to when you finally shut shop for the day, you’re building on positive feelings and not getting dragged down by procrastination and lethargy?
Here’s a secret: Build on small successes.
Come to your computer every single morning and do something small, something tiny even, that feels like an accomplishment. It could be proofreading and sending a query letter that you wrote the day before. It could be writing a blog post for your website, it could even be something as simple and quick as signing and e-mailing a contract. When you give yourself a small success early in the day, you set the tone for the rest of the hours to come.
In the week that I did this, I tricked myself into achieving double of what I’m used to. Now that’s what I call productive progress.
How’s your momentum today?
Want to see a query letter that sold to the New York Times? You can download that (and 20 more) by clicking here.
Or perhaps you’re looking to learn the secrets of a six-figure freelancing income? I asked successful freelancers what they’re doing right and they told me. You can read that report here.