Friday, February 9, 2018

How to Jump Back into Writing after Time Away

If you love writing, but also have a life, you know your best-laid plans of creating wonderful work can sometimes go awry. Life steps in, takes over, and sometimes derails our writing. That’s not always a bad thing. It’s just a fact. We all know how it happens…

Over Christmas break, I chose to focus my free time on my kiddos, letting my writing projects simmer on the back burner. That’s two weeks down. No big deal. Breaks are good.
But the transition back to school and real life left me scrambling to catch up on work, bills, and appointments. Scribbled a little. But not much. One more week down.

Starting to feel nervous...
I would’ve really focused the next week and had a writing frenzy, but I already had other plans...a trip to Mexico with my husband. 

Feeling really nervous. 

Surely I could fit in some time to write.

And I did, honest. But the beaches were calling. It was sub-zero back home, and I must confess, I accomplished very little on my laptop. I’d just jump right in back at home. happened. 
It snowed and iced, my kids crashed cars, our house froze, pipes broke, and school was canceled for almost a week! How much actual writing did I accomplish? You got it, zilch.

Yup, I'm horrified, too. In fact, at this point, I’m starting to feel demoralized. Am I really a writer if I never write? To make matters worse, after a month away from my projects, I’m losing momentum (ya think?). I might even lose faith in myself. 
And the laptop in my backpack starts to feel really, really heavy. I start leaving it at home instead of toting it everywhere like an extra body part just in case I get a chance to write. 

I tell myself I should be social, which is probably true. But there’s lots of things I should improve on (laundry, cooking healthy meals, etc, etc) and none of them should keep me from writing. All these things are writing excuses…a phenomenon so well known among authors that there’s even a podcast called Writing Excuses, which, incidentally, is excellent.
But no more excuses. It’s time to write. And if you’re reading this, I’m guessing I’m not the only one who’s prepping to take the plunge. So how do we do it? How do we get back on track after a longer-than expected hiatus from writing?
Here’s some of my tried-and-true techniques:

Spend more time thinking about your projects.

When I have down time driving, jogging, or waiting in line, I start brainstorming plot lines or characters, blog topics, or even marketing techniques. This helps prime my mind for when I’m ready to actually sit down and work.

Finesse your website or social media platform.

I know this sounds like a time waster when you really need to be writing, but sometimes a few minutes spent in this ancillary writing realm can remind you why you write and that you actually really enjoy it. This is a good way to ease yourself back in.

Reread stories, essays or posts you’ve written.

This primes the mental pump, showing you that, yes, you can produce quality work. You’ve done it before and you can do it again.

Even better, read over sections of your work-in-progress.

This will refresh your memory. Why were you writing this piece? What is so compelling about it that you’d want to dedicate your precious time to it? This can also get you in the zone, spark new ideas, and light a fire under your imagination. And believe me, once that fire is lit, there’s no lame excuses that will quench it. Go laundry? It will wait. Got sore fingers? You can handle the pain. Puking? Well, that one may be a real excuse. Maybe.

Best strategy of all? Just. Do. It.

Get out your laptop or notebook or clay tablets and start writing. The more you write, the more you will want to and voila! You’re a writer again. Happy writing!
What are some of your favorite writing excuses and how do you jump back into writing after time away?

1 comment:

Elizabeth Varadan, Author said...

Well actually, I've gone through all of the above. Partly because I finished one book and I needed to start submitting it; partly because a picture book got published and I had to help move it along. And partly because the book I wanted to work on had bogged down. Seriously bogged down. But then a friend and I took a 6-session writing workshop where the teacher gave HOMEWORK. With DEADLINES. And enough space between meetings to produce. The last assignment was to do a chapter outline of our entire WIP whether we knew what was going to happen or not. Just get to the end of it. And, magically, I figured out what was going to happen between where my work bogged down before and the ending. So now I'm all revved up again. Working on Chapter four today, and doing some of the research required. All excited again.