Newton’s Laws, and Yes, This About Writing!
My formal educational background is not in writing–or any liberal art. I spent my collegiate formation as a scientist. Hard, cold facts, and immutable laws of physics. And, believe it or not, some of that science background has come in quite handy, and in more ways than you might imagine. So, I am going to break down Newton’s Laws of Motion, and how I think they relate to writing.
Rule #1: Every object in a state of uniform motion tends to remain in that state of motion unless an external force is applied to it.
There are two statements about this law that are important. The first states that a body at rest will remain at rest until acted on by some force. What this means is you will never, ever write anything unless you apply some force to the chair and start writing. Thinking about writing, dreaming about writing, wondering about writing… nope. You. Must. Write.
The second is that a body in motion will remain in motion until acted upon by another force. So, great, you are writing. Wonderful. Words and ideas are making their way onto the page. What force might cause that to cease? In the physical world we live in, we usually will think of things like gravity, even air resistance. Oh, I understand resistance in writing. What things tend to get in the way of writing? Work, family, chores… the list is endless. Even more insidious are the forces of apathy. Inner doubt. That kind of resistance is sometimes even harder to overcome. So, be aware of it when writing starts taking a back seat. Write anyway. Make it a habit. I have a sheet of paper on my writing board that is divided into 365 squares, each numbered. Every day I write, I can mark through that day in red. My goal is to fill that page with red marks by the end of the year. An object in motion remaining in motion.
Rule #2: The relationship between an object’s mass m, its acceleration a, and the applied force F is F = ma. Acceleration and force are vectors (as indicated by their symbols being displayed in slant bold font); in this law the direction of the force vector is the same as the direction of the acceleration vector.
Take a deep breath. This isn’t as complicated as it might seem, or at least not where writing is concerned. Basically, Newton’s Second Law says that acceleration is increased by force, and decreased by mass. Okay, so let’s consider mass as the size of the story. A short story is perhaps easier to get in motion, and keep in motion, than, a novel the size of War and Peace. But, the key here is that we are talking about acceleration. So, the more force (butt glued to chair, writing) you apply, the faster it goes. Yes, writing picks up speed the more you write! You will get to know your characters, you will become more familiar with the world they inhabit, and your writing skills will grow. I like this law–a lot! It’s like training to run a marathon. The stronger your writing muscles become, the easier it is to finish the race.
Rule #3: The mutual forces of action and reaction between two bodies are equal, opposite and collinear.
Another way this Law is stated is; For every reaction, there is an equal and opposite reaction. Hmmm. What does that mean for writing? Oh, you are going to LOVE this one. If you write long enough, things won’t remain the same. They change. For example, you find yourself getting things like this.
Well, that’s it for my physics lesson today. I am back to writing, because I want to accelerate towards other goals. Like some of these.
Until next time, apply some glue to the chair, and get to work on some physics–I mean writing!