Forward Momentum

I’ve had a lot of trouble being productive this week. My forward momentum has stalled. Part of that is a discipline issue. Take, for example, yesterday. 9:00 hit last night, and I hadn’t yet gotten any writing done. I was tired, and my head hurt (it’s been raining for days), and it was late, so I chose to just watch some TV instead. That’s on me.

This post isn’t about the excuses I used to not write this week. It has been a busy week, and I’ve been gone a lot in the afternoons, but if I’d been as disciplined as I should have been I would have fit at least a little work in somewhere.

Rather, this post is about pointing out how easy it is to keep not working when I’ve already begun not working. Did you take physics in high school? Remember inertia? Merriam Webster-“a property of matter by which it continues in its existing state of rest or uniform motion in a straight line, unless that state is changed by an external force”. I know writing isn’t physics, but the same principle applies. The more I let myself slide on not getting work done, the easier it becomes to not get any work done. I need an external force (discipline) to change that trajectory.

What about motivation, you ask? Motivation is unreliable and ultimately worthless. There’s a great post by NerdFitness’s Steve Kamb called Motivation: You’re Doing It Wrong. Motivation inspires us to make a change and gives us a push, but it isn’t enough to sustain us through the long haul. Last night, I was completely lacking in motivation. That’s where discipline needs to step up.

Discipline is what makes me get out my laptop late at night and pound out a few hundred words because I haven’t gotten around to it all day. Discipline is what makes me choose to write instead of finishing the book I’m reading or watching new episodes of my favorite show on Netflix. Discipline is what’s going to get this project finished when I simply don’t feel like doing it.

All is not lost, though. Just like inactivity builds forward momentum, productivity does the same thing. As I mentioned in my post Back Into Creation Mode, I’ve been away from this project for a little while. I lost all momentum whatsoever, and I’m still trying to get it back. But once I do, that momentum will only build. Once I’m fully immersed in my story and churning out a couple thousand words a day, it’ll drive me nuts to not be working. Writing will consume my thoughts and keep me awake at night planning my next chapter. I won’t need as much discipline, because I’ll be completely motivated to keep moving forward.

Let me know what you think in the comments. How do you stay disciplined? How do you find the drive to keep working when you just really don’t feel like it?


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