Word of the Year: Momentum

Love Notes, in progress detail by Nadine Ruggles

I’ve decided my word of the year for 2014 is Momentum. It’s most definitely not “because”–I’m just not even going to get started on that. Yes, I know it’s the beginning of February, not January. While many people are reflecting at year end and thinking ahead to the new year, I’m still recovering. Yes, it takes that long to get over the holiday season for me some years!

Momentum is awesome while you have it. I know because I had it for many years, and I wouldn’t have been able to push a book from concept to completion in just over a year without it. These days, there’s no momentum. I move in fits and starts, and not always in a forward direction. Right now I am actually moving forward on this:

Love Notes, in progress detail by Nadine Ruggles
Love Notes, in progress detail

There’s no telling when forward motion will stop though. Heck, it might even stop because I’m taking time out to write this. 😦 I want that momentum back. I want to just keep on rolling and keep on being excited about what I’m doing.

The key may be figuring out what kills my momentum. There are a lot of things that can be totally distracting. I get going on something cool and creatively productive, and BAM! Full stop for some reason and then it’s hard for me to reengage and find that creative sweet spot again. My list of momentum killers, and how I can overcome them if I’ve figured it out, in no particular order:

Not feeling well: For the last 18 months, I’ve had various non-life-threatening medical issues that range from mildly irritating and distracting to completely debilitating. It’s hard to be creative through some of that. I know I’m not dying–at least not yet–and I’m not as sick as some other folks with the same sorts of autoimmune problems (though it would be lovely if the doctors even had a clue what I have…), but still, it’s a bummer. Between feeling awful for various reasons and spending way too much time at the doctor for innumerable tests, yeah, there are days I just move backward if I move at all.

Solution: Well, not really a solution, but I’ve just been minimizing the doctor visits. Sure, I have to go in for monitoring and more tests yearly or every few months, but I’m just doing the bare minimum. They can’t do anything more for me than they’re already doing at this point, so there’s not much reason to torture myself with more appointments at the military hospital or the chiropractor any longer. It is what it is, and some days are good, others not so much. I also try to plan days and events to minimize the negative effects on my health.

Stress: Some of that up there is brought on or made worse by stress, and I can’t just magically make the stress disappear. I wish I could. I have no magic solution for that, except to be more aware of the triggers and try to avoid them.

Switching gears: I’ve known for years that I don’t switch gears gracefully. If I’m in that creative zone I want to, and need to, just keep going. Heck, if I’m playing Warcraft, I want to just keep going. This is why it tends to be either quilting all the time or gaming all the time here. If I’m deep into a quilting or designing project, I can’t just stop thinking about it to hop into the game and play. It’s even tough for me to switch gears to cook dinner some days, but we all have to eat. Not sure of a solution on this one. I might have to schedule a bit of Warcraft time if I’m deep into the quilting like I am right now, since that might help stave off burnout.

Sewing machine issues: Aaack! Full stop on this one. I was lucky this last time and my local Bernina dealer fixed my machine in a day (I think he was going out of his way to try to make me happy this time after their huge snafu the last time, so I don’t expect I’ll get that sort of service all the time 😉 ). Yes, I have backup machines but as I found out when the Bernina was down, one isn’t working at all, and the other one is definitely NOT a favorite.

Solution: fix them all (though my wallet is probably not going to like that part), and also always have creative things on the burner that don’t need a machine, just in case I don’t have one for a week or so.

Too many ideas: I have them. I have so many ideas that I can easily get distracted by one, and end up spending a lot of time thinking about and tinkering around with something I’ll never actually do or complete. I do this with websites, sewing and quilting projects and any number of other things.

Solution: I think I need to do what ITMan has been telling me to do a lot over the past year. He thinks I need to write down goals, with dates and everything! I think I know what I want to do and I don’t need to write it down ’cause it’s all in my head. Yeah, I think he wins this round, dang him anyway.

Too many hats: I have to wear them. There’s the designer hat, the quilter hat, the researcher hat, the webmaster hat, the shop manager hat, the marketer hat, the blogger hat… and that’s just for the quilting side of my life. This is what burned me out so badly when my book was published that I took a break that lasted years. There are too many things to do for this party and no one else to do them but me. I don’t have a solution other than to minimize the things I really don’t like doing, and hope the rest is enough.

Feeling guilt: Committing to doing something and then not feeling like doing it on time or at all leads to guilt for not doing it, even if it’s something I’ve voluntarily said I would do. Like that series of machine quilting posts that still isn’t done. I have notes for the rest of it, I just haven’t felt like doing it. It was a couple of months before the post about the construction details for “‘Tis Just the Wind” got done after that Wicked blog hop. Then I feel like I’ve let other people down because they were expecting me to do it because I said I would and it just hangs over my head which makes me feel like doing it less and less. Vicious cycle, I know!

Solution: I need to never say “I’m going to do something” at least not to anyone else. I need just do it when feel like doing it. No more “series” blog posts. Say it in one post or just don’t say it. I’ll wrap up the machine quilting series in one or two more posts, because I said I would, but that’s an end to that kind of thing. I suppose the other option is to write multi-part or series posts all at once and then schedule them for future dates if I really feel like something warrants it.

Never enough hours in the day: Really, who decided on 24? Obviously not a creative person. Even on days when I’ve really gotten a lot done, it never feels like enough. Really productive days even keep me up at night because I’m thinking of things I still need to do or designing quilts in my head.

Solution: At the end of the day, I need to spend more time thinking of all the things I did get done than lamenting the undone things. And I mean all the things, even the mundane ones like remembering to phone the vet and order more hoity-toity special snowflake cat food, or managing to put more on the table for dinner than a frozen pizza.

For those of you still bothering to read all this introspective blather, here’s another sneaky peek at the quilting table and what’s keeping me absorbed in quilting at the moment:

Love Notes, in progress detail by Nadine Ruggles
Love Notes, in progress detail

And just to add one more momentum killer, this post almost didn’t happen at all. I made some notes for it as I thought about it three or four days ago and saved a draft. Today, after typing 1200 words while WordPress was happily auto saving drafts as I went, WordPress then happily (or unhappily…) tried to make it disappear into the Nwisting Nether of the Internet when I manually saved the draft. AAAARRRGH!

See? See what happens?!? I recovered the post, no thanks to WordPress and the revisions since apparently no drafts were actually auto saved at all. If I hadn’t recovered all that I’d already typed I’d have left the computer, walked away and made more coffee, maybe played a little Warcraft in frustration and denial, and never looked back at this post. For some readers that might seem like a good thing, but for me this all needed to be said… if only just for me.

What about you? What are your momentum killers and how do you deal with them? I’d love to hear from you! 🙂

2 thoughts on “Word of the Year: Momentum

  1. I know I’ve experienced exactly what you are feeling and I think you just about covered all the common triggers! When you speak of the “momentum” you experienced writing your book, I’m reminded of the concept of “Flow” which I read about a few years ago in this post:

    When I review the components of flow she talks about in that post and then ask myself which I am NOT feeling when I look at my creative output, I usually can zero in on what’s the REAL REASON for the block. If I can’t immediately control for it, at least understanding (or being really honest about) what the issue is helps me move towards working through it (or getting right back to work).

    Sometimes we just have to give ourselves permission to take the time to recharge.


    1. Thank you for the link to that very wonderful blog post Vivian! And an even bigger thank you for letting me know I’m not alone in this.

      The next time I’m having issues–which truly still happen a couple of times a week right now–I’ll try reviewing as you’ve done. Perhaps that will get me back on track, or at the very least, allow me to stop beating myself up over it all.


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