Newton’s First Law of Motion states that a body at rest tends to stay at rest. The Writer’s Corollary is that a person not writing tends to continue not writing.
Add any expectation to this initial inertia – that the writing be good, that you complete something significant today, that you write a predetermined number of words or pages, that the writing wow an editor or impress a contest judge, etc. – and you have a recipe for resistance.
You need targets of course, otherwise you’re just shooting in the dark. Any of the aims listed above can be effective guides if you see them as targets, but they’ll work against you if you allow them to become expectations. The difference between a target and an expectation is that having a target assumes that you’ll need at least a couple of shots and probably several practice sessions to refine your aim and reach the target. An expectation is the demand for a bull’s-eye first time, every time. Unrealistic and paralyzing.
Imagine this: a Hot Wheels car poised at the top of a ramp. The car has potential energy because it’s at the top of the ramp. The only thing holding it in place is inertia – it just needs a little push.
You are that Hot Wheels car. Your potential energy comes from your life experiences, observations, ideas, insights, creative inspiration and your writing experience, talent and training. What’s holding you in place is a little speed bump of initial inertia. Unless you’ve collected a bunch of unrealistic expectations, in which case, what’s holding you in place is an anti-terrorist-sized cement block barrier.
My solution to initial inertia is to eliminate all expectations, set one simple guideline that all you have to do is show up for your 15 Magic Minutes and start. Just start. Start drafting or freewriting, start revising, start researching, start anything related to your writing project, just start.
It doesn’t matter if the writing is any good. It doesn’t matter if the writing is original, if it’s awkward, or if you start one sentence and it doesn’t take you anywhere. It doesn’t matter if you don’t know where to begin. Start in the middle. Start with a random word. Start by reading what you’ve written before or start by reading what someone else has written (aka research). Start with a character sketch or a question. Just start.
Well, what are you waiting for? Go start something!