The Grind: Continuing Momentum
Welcome to the pain train, the marathon from hell, the grind. At this point you’ve made some good progress and have settled into something that maybe resembles a routine. You’d think this is where it gets easier, but man oh man are you wrong. You’re in the thick of your writing and although you have some momentum, this is where I’ve found the writing to be at its hardest. Ideas have started to dry up and the crushing weight of the enormity of the project starts to hit home. Nevertheless, we persist.
The best medicine for the grind is grit and perseverance. You have to be willing to roll around in the mud and really get dirty. Anything less than that and this stage is going to be a struggle. My next book Ugly Creativity will cover strategies for getting gritty. So, shameless plug, add that book to your wish list (or shopping cart, depending on when you’re reading this). But you’re not reading my book now, you’re reading this blog, and I love you for it.
At this stage, take a moment to ask yourself what has worked for you so far - consider everything. Consider your routines, writing space, resources, when in the day you write, down to even the smallest details such as the blend of coffee you’re using. If you’re feeling stuck or unmotivated, play around with changing up anything that isn’t conducive to your writing. The most important part of continuing your progress is building any sort of momentum. It can be small - I’ve had days I wrote one sentence and called it quits. That is still momentum. Quality over quantity here. I’d rather you feel good about one sentence rather than five pages you feel are uninspired. That one good sentence can be energizing and lead to momentum.
Once you have momentum, you have to treat it like a fire as if you’re Survivorman. Do whatever you can to keep it going day by day. Once that fire goes out, it can be hard to get it back again. To offer another analogy, keeping up momentum is like building an exercise habit - if you work out consistently it’s easier to keep it going. If you take a break, even for a few days, the idea of getting back up on your bike sounds unappealing (not that it ever really sounds appealing in the first place…). Your writing is the same thing. I know I said quality over quantity earlier, but to walk that back a little, part of momentum is just getting something down on paper. You want to try and make it something you feel good about, but you’re not committed to it and can always go back in the next day and edit or delete it. Here’s a tip that may help - don’t delete anything the same day you write it (unless it’s complete garbage) - write it down and revisit it the next day. If you still don’t feel good about it in the light of a new day, throw it out.
You’re in the grind phase of the writing process now. This phase lasts a while. Maybe weeks, months, or longer. There is no use in fighting it; if you’re going to pursue writing in any capacity, but especially for novel writing, you will have to deal with the grind. Accept it, embrace it. Be willing to go round for round with it and don’t be afraid to get a little ugly. It doesn’t have to be pretty, you just have to keep the momentum going.
Up Next: Staying Inspired Through to the End