About Momentum (and why it is a writer's best friend)
This essay is also known as FICTION or NONFICTION, but never FRICTION
This is a Newton’s Cradle. Sometimes it’s called Newton’s Balls, a name I prefer, but for the sake of professionalism, I’ll stick with Cradle. It’s typically used to demonstrate physics principles, but I am going to employ it to explain how you can keep writer’s block at bay.
Do you remember the word inertia from science class? If not (I didn’t, either): Inertia is t he tendency of an object at rest to stay at rest, and an object in motion to stay in motion, unless acted on by an outside force. The Newton’s Cradle in the picture is currently an object at rest. As a writer, if you are not putting pen to paper, you are also at rest.
When you put pen in hand, or pull back one of the end balls of the Cradle, they are no longer at rest. Letting go of this first ball is akin to putting your first word on paper. After you release the ball, it swings until it hits the second ball, the second ball then taps the third, the third taps the fourth, and then the fourth hits the last ball, which swings out, away from the Newton’s Cradle.
The energy that flows through the balls is known as momentum. On the fifth ball’s return swing, momentum travels through the balls again, resulting in the first ball swinging out. This back-and-forth flow of energy continues on and on. In writing terms, as long as you keep the pen moving, word by word, sentence by sentence, paragraph by paragraph, you will maintain momentum.
According to the above definition of inertia, once the pen starts writing, it will continue to write … unless YOU stop it. The stopping is another word from science class: friction. Friction is the evil of all motion, a force that resists the relative motion.
As a writer, your goal is FICTION or NONFICTION, but definitely not FRICTION. Friction is your inner critic or judge, perfection paralysis, comparisons to others, fear of the blank page, overwhelm, self-doubt, not knowing the next step, and fear of rejection. In its worst-case scenario, friction is writer’s block.
If you should encounter writer’s block, the best cure is to pick up the pen and do writing exercises like the ones in Take Ten for Writers and The Write-Brain Workbook which have been specifically designed to stop the friction by eliminating judgments and expectations, and to start the flow of energy by giving you fun and unexpected ways to create fiction or nonfiction. Think of these books as Neubauer’s Cradle—and let the momentum begin.
To START WRITING NOW, go to the online Story Spinner where you will find millions of free creative writing exercises waiting for you.