Finding Time to Write and Reflect (Creative Momentum)

(video essay on my YouTube channel)

Writing is crystalized thinking.

Many writers subjectively report that the best time they can find for writing is early in the morning. And also that reflection comes with the night. Sometimes inspiration might strike, you might feel in the zone, you might want to take out your phone or jump into your computer chair and start writing right away. You have the momentum going, and everything else works seamlessly. But momentum is not necessarily about the volume of work, but more about the pace and rhythm of your work. You can spend your day jumping from email to email, micro-task to micro-task, and end the day feeling less productive. Going into the next day without momentum.

Creative Momentum is doing something small that excites you every day. Riding the wave of your interests and hobbies.

The first tactic I use to build momentum is writing straight up on a blank piece of paper each morning. The industry calls it Morning Pages. Three pages of longhand, stream of consciousness writing, done first thing in the morning. There is no right or wrong way to do it. This is why you don't even have to write 3 pages. There is no number attached to it. One can even not view this as writing. But what I'll do is face the blank sheet and start writing random things all over the place. And, oftentimes, one will find a few gems. Repressed thoughts, influences, dubious ideas, beliefs, impressions. And while these might not hold much weight, I would also want to face them on a blank sheet of paper.

Writing is crystalized thinking. Downloading information straight from your brain onto this piece of technology we call paper is a process that involves the whole body. As your mind is the engine creating all of it, and your hands are the transmission cords that can make sure you can physically see your thoughts.

I view it as a filtering system. I am sometimes imagining that my brain, even though asleep, was up all night, doing his own thing without me actively knowing what's happening. This can either come in as dreams, micro-thoughts, and body variations. Having 8+ hours of incapacitation needs some filtering. I need to take out what happened. This is why taking out everything I unconsciously thought during the night on a piece of paper is helpful. It can be leftover thoughts from the last day, last month, and even years ago.

The second thing I am doing to keep that momentum going is to progress on something meaningful to me on a macro level every single day. I am doing this by taking care of the micro. Either that being writing for my website, constructing my educational assets, gathering and organizing the resources I consumed, continuing where I left yesterday, or tidying up unfinished work.

Reducing friction is often one thing that is neglected. Taking care of your environmental design is also a cool experiment you can try out that can encourage your ability to produce. Designing your control center in such a way that it's going to be easy for you to start writing can be the first important step. Seeing your morning pages journal on your desk, not hiding it in the back of a drawer. Making sure you have a centralized workspace to perform your writing that's similar in flavor and can be accessed anywhere such as Notion, Roam, Evernote or, the plain old journal can be a great support structure for creative endeavors.

And the question I often ask myself is How can I find my peak productivity time?

When and where am I usually in the zone of momentum, and how can I create more of that during my week?

I found that for me usually works best in the morning. And you can mentally reorganize how you view this and apply the recipe to your workflow. And when the monkey mind comes in late at night, you will know that you took a ride on the momentum train, and you will still be able to do it tomorrow.

Leaving something unfinished is another thing I will do on purpose, setting up breadcrumbs for myself so that I can have something to look forward to tomorrow. This is an easy way to regain momentum the next day.

You can read the stuff you wrote out the previous day, possibly adjusting it, touching the pen or the keyboard, involving yourself in the project once again. And combining this with reflection time that's usually happening during the evening hours, when my brain is a little bit tired, can be a killer combo.

I can either spend the evening reflecting on what I've done that day or simply shutting my brain off and let it do the work unconsciously.

During the reflection time, you can use your morning pages and either perform a full brain dump as you did in the morning or come up with a more structured way to look at your day. It's your choice. What I sometimes do is create a nightly note card where I would plainly outline the things I would want to do tomorrow in a 3-bullet format. Also write up a few sentences about my day. Sometimes I might prioritize creating a structure, but frequently the pages are full of randomness.

And doing this for the first time can be overwhelming in a way, but also, you are going to write. A lot. As you would probably have plenty of unprocessed stuff running in your mental engine.

Finding momentum and beats you can follow during the day, like a melody invading your mental space, and really interacting with that melody, slightly adjusting your rhythm along the way while not falling off of it, the micro-actions you perform combined with reflection time - taking all of that and applying it to any of your projects, either being writing, coding, drawing, research, music or any other thing you might be interested in, can be a great kit of tools that will keep you moving forward.

I wanted to thank you for reading.

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