The Inertia of Writing

A couple of months ago I wrote about 5 ways to come up with writing content. #5 was to just write. I mentioned that this was the most straightforward, but also the most important way to create content.

Easy for me to say, right?

I will be the first to admit that I do not always take my own advice. Recently I was caught in a writing fog. I was struggling to come up with ideas and for days, my notebook sat untouched.

I just couldn’t come up with anything to write.

It is times like this when no one wants to hear the advice, “just write.” Why would I just write when I didn’t have anything to write? Why would I just write when I know that it will be a jumbled mess? What would I just write when my brain seems too tired to generate ideas?

The answer to all those questions is inertia.

You know, inertia, that thing you once learned about in science class. It is the principle of Newton’s first law of motion that says an object at rest tends to stay at rest unless acted on by an outside force.

When I was in a writing funk, I was not writing. And when I was not writing, I was an object at rest. And inertia states that I was going to stay at rest unless something changed.

Not cool Isaac Newton.

But luckily, the opposite is true. An object in motion tends to stay in motion unless acted on by an outside force.

This is why I needed to just sit down and start writing. I was not going to change my writing inertia unless I started in motion.

I still didn’t have any ideas, but I decided to get a couple of writing prompts and just start.

I’ll admit that the writing was not very good. In fact, it was downright awful at first. However, it got better.

Next thing I knew, I was starting to think of good ideas. I kept writing and writing and before I knew it I had come up with more blog post ideas in that short time than I had created in the previous 2 weeks.

Once you start moving, your brain gets on a roll.

Don’t believe me? Maybe you will listen to one of the most successful comedians of all time.

A New York Times reporter once asked Jerry Seinfield why he continues to travel and play small comedy clubs, despite his enormous wealth and success. Seinfield said, “I read an article a few years ago that said when you practice a sport a lot, you literally become a broadband: the nerve pathway in your brain contains a lot more information. As soon as you stop practicing, the pathway begins shrinking back down. Reading that changed my life. I used to wonder, Why am I doing these sets, getting on a stage? Don’t I know how to do this already? The answer is no. You must keep doing it. The broadband starts to narrow the moment you stop.”

That broadband example Seinfield used demonstrates the power of inertia.

Whether you are a stand up comedian, a writer or Isaac Newton himself, things in motion tend to stay in motion. It can be difficult to start that motion, but once you get moving, there is not much that will stop you.



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