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Just do it: how momentum and effort can help you finish your draft

Have you met Sarah Aronson yet? She is a huge cheerleader for her fellow writers, sharing advice and inspiration on her blog, through her Monday Motivation e-newsletters and through her teaching at the Highlights Foundation and other places. We’re delighted that she will be hosting a new course for us: Just Do It! Your Collaborative Support Group for Finishing Your Draft, online from September 29-December 8.

This supportive program is a 3-part online cooperative, taking all writers (nonfiction or fiction, picture books, novels, essays, and more) from goal-stating to finished drafts through writing prompts, daily inspirations, check-ins, and feedback with Sarah and her special guests. If you’ve been struggling to finish a draft, are ramping up to participate in National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) or are just looking for online community and accountability, this is the course for you!

We’re sharing some of Sarah’s Monday Motivation wisdom to get you excited about moving forward:

Effort and Momentum

When I was a physical therapist, I thought a lot about the importance of effort and momentum. Now, as a writer, I strive to find a balance of both.

Effort is all about work. Getting stronger. Thinking. Intentionality.

Momentum is speed. Inspiration. Momentum is fast.

I will never forget the moment I learned how our muscles fire when we are walking fast…versus when we walk slow. (You use a lot more muscle to walk slowly.)

So, what does this have to do with the writing process?

Since I am [working right now] to CAREFULLY finish a revision, I feel like I am ALL effort. I am reading slowly, to make sure all my plot turns work. I am thinking about my characters and the structure of the novel.

The problem is: Sometimes thinking too much can destroy momentum.

So, if you are like me, and have a need for writing speed, how do we find that balance at every stage?

Need momentum?
Try different genres! Come on, Writers, PLAY! Creativity should be expansive and fun. We all have lots of ideas. None of us should feel pinned down to any one genre. Remember: if it makes YOU happy, write it!

OR do you need effort?
Slow down! Read aloud! Open that first chapter or page and think about what you are asking your reader to undertake. Write down the WHY behind your story. As you proceed, keep it in mind.

You can also make that storyboard.

For each chapter, write down the main action and emotion. Examine why you have put the characters in the scene. Be deliberate about language.

Bonus: drawing out your scenes will always help you find new details to make your characters/tension//setting come to life.

If you are with me and are at the end of a revision, take a break in between each chapter. Keep that notebook handy to help you stay organized. If you catch your mind wandering, open a “peach sorbet” in a different genre. Get it out of your system!

Then get back to work.


More articles from Sarah

Tool Kit for Imposter Syndrome

Surprise and Preparation

The Long Game Called Revision

Critique FAQs


Could you use a cheerleader right now?

Highlights Foundation logo: Just Do It! Your Collaborative Support Group for Finishing Your Draft. Online Starting September 29. Sarah Aronson with Special Guests
register now

Posted on: September 15, 2022

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