Writing can be a tough and lonely business. Finding ways to motivate yourself: to light an inner flame, to nourish an inner drive — the compulsion to move forward despite obstacles — is an ongoing struggle for me and for most of the writers I talk to.
This is especially true for creative projects developed on spec because of a personal drive or idea. There’s no deadline to keep you focused, no one looking over your shoulder demanding that you work or accomplish so much within a given period. Instead, everything is fluid and in your hands. Both your ideas and the incentive to give them life through words have to come from within.
How do you build momentum — the motivation to move forward? One of the best ways I’ve come up with is what I call the “pressure-cooker approach.” When I have an idea aborning, I try not to hold it too closely. When it’s at a tender early stage and very elusive, I try not to grab at it or try to pin it down in words.
Instead, I just leave it alone and let it gently float around in my head while I’m doing other things. Slowly, almost magically, my little germ of an idea begins to grow and attract other bits and pieces of inspiration. Then, at a certain point, my mind just naturally gravitates toward it and I start paying closer attention to it.
This just happened with my YA novel. My husband David came up with a great idea for adding a new dimension to my story and I knew intuitively it was on target. At first, I had just a glimmer in my mind of how it would work. Instead of rushing to capture it on paper, I just let it simmer.
Then today, as I was taking a walk, boom! A whole scene flashed into my mind that seems like the perfect way to introduce a new character. Then I started seeing another scene unfolding as I was walking. Suddenly, chunks of dialogue came to me — it was so exciting! Now I feel energized and eager to get everything down on paper. Here’s the cycle: Holding your idea loosely creates inner pressure, which builds momentum, which propels you forward. Does this strategy work for you? If so, please let me know. Write on!