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Creativity coach, writing and creative process instructor, speaker, author of Around the Writer's Block: Using Brain Science to Write the Way You Want (Penguin/Tarcher 2012) and Dancing in the Dragon's Den (Red Wheel Weiser), Teaching Artist at the Loft Literary Center.

Initial Inertia


A body at rest tends to stay at rest; A person not writing tends to continue not writing...

Applying Newton's 1st Law of Motion: a person not writing tends to continue not writing...

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.

ramp_racerImagine 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!

8 Comments on “Initial Inertia”

  1. nuclear energy from the earth September 28, 2012 at 6:41 am #

    I believe that is one of the such a lot significant information for me.
    And i’m satisfied reading your article. But should statement on few basic issues, The web site taste is great, the articles is actually nice : D. Good process, cheers

    Like

    • rosannebane September 28, 2012 at 8:44 am #

      Thanks Jonathan (nuclear energy from the earth). It is rewarding to know the blog is significant to readers.

      Like

  2. 'Ailina January 23, 2010 at 11:36 am #

    Another excellent article, Rosanne. Thank you for pointing me to it. Your material makes for a great daily pep talk.

    Like

    • rosannebane January 23, 2010 at 4:11 pm #

      Ailina,
      Thanks for the positive feedback – that’s part of my rewards.

      Rosanne

      Like

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Are You a Creative Super-Conductor? « The Bane of Your Resistance - January 8, 2013

    […] confuse initial inertia for a permanent condition that preempts flow. You could be on the threshold of a flow experience […]

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  2. Radical Solution to Resistance « The Bane of Your Resistance - October 25, 2012

    […] may still need to give a little “oomph” of effort to get moving (because of initial inertia), but you’ll need a lot less “oomph” to do something you enjoy than you would need to force […]

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  3. Focus and Fifteen Magic Minutes « The Bane of Your Resistance - November 22, 2011

    […] I’ve often proclaimed the power of short, regular writing sessions (see previous posts on 15 Magic Minutes, 10 Reasons to Show Up,or Initial Inertia). […]

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  4. Weird Warm-ups « The Bane of Your Resistance - January 12, 2011

    […] many writers, the first minutes of writing are the hardest. That’s when intial inertia is working against us – you know, just like a body at rest tends to stay at rest, a person not […]

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