Got Writing Velocity?

I've been mulling the concept of momentum in writing lately, because I think I'm finally getting some in my new novel.  As I pondered, I hit on the idea of writing velocity. Night_oktogon_budapest_270478_l

What is writing velocity?

Here's the dictionary definition of velocity:  "the distance an object travels in a specified direction during a unit of time."

And we all know the definition of writing.  It means putting words on the page.

So, here are some ideas about what writing velocity means:

— Writing velocity is writing fast

— Writing velocity is writing fearless

— Writing velocity is getting lots of words on the page

— Writing velocity is satisfying

— Writing velocity advances you toward your goals

Wait, you may say. Writing fast is scary and at times unwieldy.  Or even ungainly.  Or unholy.  Add whatever "un" word you like.  All of the above can be true.  And they can also be worked through. 

Because, here are some reasons why you want writing velocity:

— Writing velocity bypasses the conscious mind

— Writing velocity focuses on process, not product

— Writing velocity is fun

— Writing velocity goes deep.

Before I got into how to actually attain writing velocity, let's talk about when it is not appropriate to be writing crazy fast.  That would be when you are pondering big-picture rewrites or doing detailed editing work.

And now, how to get writing velocity into your life:

1.  Read.  All the time.  Read what you want to write.  Read self-help books.  Read spiritual tomes.  Read anything.  Words in, words out.

2.  Pre-write.  Take notes about what you're going to write about ahead of time.  This helps you to get a starting point, and having a way in is always useful.

3.  Connect with your work.  Read what you've last written (or your notes) before bed.  Or before you take a walk.  Find a time to get your work into your brain so your subconscious will work on ideas about it.

4.  Write every day.  There really is no better option than to just do it.

5.  Take a break.  On the other hand, some modes of healing such as Chinese medicine advocate rest for healing.  We can heed these as writers, too.  Sometimes going full out with the writing can burn us out, especially when working on a long project.  So build in intentional rest times (intentional being the operative word).

Please comment.  Do you write fast?  Does it help your writing process? What have I missed about attaining writing velocity? I'd love to hear more from you.

 Photo by fresh-m.

Tips on Writing: Building Momentum

I often tell people that writing every day is an excellent way to build momentum.


And then they look at me blankly and wonder why in the hell they need momentum, since they are writers, not rocket engineers.

I tell them (and I'm telling you now) that momentum is what gets the novel (or memoir, or article, or any writing project) done.

So, what exactly is momentum?


1. the product of a body's mass and its velocity

2. the impetus of a body resulting from its motion

3. giving power or strength

Since we don't happen to be rocket scientists, its #2 and #3 we're after.  Power and strength derived from the impetus of a body's motion.  Or, sustained energy to complete a writing project.

Momentum is what carries us forward with excitement to the end.  Without it, nothing happens.

But what, exactly, am I talking about when I talk about momentum?  Here are some examples:

  • Yesterday, I was working on other writing projects, but my novel called to me and I took time away from what I was supposed to be working on to complete a scene in my story.  Momentum is a sense of excitement that beckons you to work on your piece no matter what, even if it means you'll have to stay up late to finish everything else.
  • A friend reports she is so excited about her memoir that she wakes in the middle of the night with ideas for it.  Momentum is your subconscious so engaged with your story that it feeds you material at all hours of the day and night.
  • A student says that working on her novel is no longer a struggle, and that she writes some every day.  Momemtum makes writing a pleasure because you're so engaged with the work.

Building Momentum

So, how, you may ask, does one achieve this wondrous state called momentum?  Here are some suggestions:

  • Write every day.  Nothing builds momentum like writing every day.
  • If you can't write every day, at least look at your work.  Glance over it, read the last scene that you wrote.  This gets it in your brain and gets your subconscious chewing on it.
  • Make notes and lists.  The subconscious mind loves this kind of tinkering with ideas and will feed you more.
  • Read.  Often when I read a book on the writing craft, I get so inspired I can't get through the book because I keep putting it down to write.  But don't just read books (or blogs) on writing, read everything.
  • Think about your novel.  My new favorite thing to do is think about the plot and characters of my novel while I'm rocking my newborn grandson, Henry.  Something about the motion of it jars loose new ideas.  Which leads me to:
  • Move.  Walk.  Many people have reported on these very pages that walking makes their brains into a veritable idea factory.  And, just in case you didn't get it the first time:
  • Write every day.  Truly try your hardest to connect with your work in writing every day, even if its one word (and make no mistake about it, writing one word counts).

How do you maintain momentum on a project?  Any tips or tricks you'd like to share? 

PS.  I'm trying to make my posts easier to navigate, so do you think the bolded words are helpful or a distraction?

PPS.  (Or is it PSS?) Don't forget to sign up for my bi-weekly free newsletter, and get yourself a copy of my Ebook, How to Jumpstart Your Book With a Vision Board.  It'll help you with momentum to get the book going. 


Photos by Woodleywonderworks.


What About Not Writing?

A couple weeks ago, I wrote about creativity with a purpose.  As usual, I banged the drum for writing on a regular basis.  (This is a familiar subject matter for me, as attested to by these posts, too: Getting Up at 5 AM, Techniques for Writing Flow, and Ah, But Here's the Rub, to name only a few.  I can't help it, its what I do!)

For me, and many writers I know, it simply works better to find some time to write very day, or as close to it as possible.  The reasons are many, but mostly boil down to one word: momentum.  Like the proverbial rock rolling down a hill and going faster and faster, your writing will gather speed if you attend to it regularly.  If you don't, there's a lot of time wasted on catch-up, such as trying to remember what the last name of your character is, or in what chapter the murder occurred.  Things like that.

But recently I found some notes from an old MFA lecture (I'm doing a massive purge of papers in my office).  The topic of said lecture was when to write and when to not write.  I was shocked at the not writing part.  But then I remembered a conversation I had recently with my friend and fellow novel goddess Katy, and she said that she goes long stretches without writing.  The nature of her job (for the above-mentioned MFA program) is such that it is difficult to commit to writing on a regular basis.  What she does is go off on intensive week-long writing retreats in which she accomplishes huge spurts of writing. 

So I've been wondering about the whole not writing thing.  I am always afraid that if I don't write, maybe one of these days I simply won't return to it, which is not bloody likely considering it is the single most consistent obsession of my life.  But still, these things I fear do stop me.

Anyone care to make a better case for not writing than I have?