Overcoming a lack of momentum

A note to myself about how to overcome the struggles coming back from a break
Overcoming a lack of momentum

Whenever I take a prolonged break from making things, the thing I fear the most is overcoming a lack of momentum.

If you engage in creative acts often you probably know what I’m talking about. It’s that feeling where after a few weeks of not being creative - of not using the muscle regularly - when you get back to it, it takes time and diligence to “get back up to speed” with where you were.

There’s a force working against you. It’s time to work, you know you’ve got to put some hours in. You want to put hours in. You’ve got ideas. Now you just need to execute. But you cant.

Or, rather, you won’t. There’s a wall there.

It’s something I’m super cognisant of, because I face this every time I come back from deliberately take a break.

After not having done anything for awhile, it takes me hundreds of shots to get back into a high-level rhythm of photography and to hone my vision again. It takes hours of writing to get back to a level where I can write in a constant stream of consciousness style. It takes time to get back to where you were, and the size and the scale of that effort is what seems to be the most daunting part.

Small steps through a swamp

Getting back into it, it’ll feel like walking waist deep through a swamp. Like anything else, it takes time for you to get used to overcoming the resistance of laziness and start building momentum again.

But don’t be put off by that. It gets easier. We just need to put in time, no matter how little, constantly, bit by bit.

Steven Pressfield in his book “The war of art” talks about this idea of creative resistance. He talks about the idea of the separation between a professional and an amateur and the differing mindsets one has to another.

He cites a quote by William Faulkner that’s particularly pertinent:

I write only when inspiration strikes. Fortunately it strikes at 9am every morning.

A professional gets to work, on time, every day. No matter what. Regardless of whether the work is great, or small, he shows up every day.

That’s the cure to overcoming a lack of momentum. Sounds simple, doesn’t it?

Just get to work.

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