When you haven’t worked on a project in a long time, 200 words might seem like filling a glass from a leaking faucet. But there are times when life gets in the way and your writing needs to take a back seat.
Sometimes you decide to concentrate on a different aspect of your writing company, such as your marketing plan, and you have to leave your characters behind for a bit.
I’ve been meaning to do this since last summer.
I hadn’t intended to take such a lengthy sabbatical from fiction writing. My initial idea was to develop and publish Productivity for Writers before returning to work on Return to New York.
But instead, I opted to hone my marketing talents.
Since then, I’ve blogged more, increased the number of visits to The Writer’s Cookbook, guest written for sites like Thrive Global, The Huffington Post, and The Writing Cooperative, and learned a lot.
But now, about a year later, I’m left wondering: how can I return to my fictitious world?
I’ve written a few hundred words of fiction here and there over the previous several months, but it’s never been more than that. My 1000-word free writing periods are a thing of the past.
But it doesn’t mean I won’t be able to return to them.
By the end of February, I’d planned six weeks’ worth of blog entries using Janet Murray’s Media Diary.
That meant I had the whole month of March to devote to my writing. This was my birthday gift to me after a difficult few months.
Here’s how I got back into fiction writing after a lengthy hiatus, and how you can, too.
Be prepared for uncomfortable situations.
You know how when you visit an old high school acquaintance you haven’t seen in years, you don’t always start up where you left off?
Yes, it can be like that when you first start writing again.
It might seem awkward and forced, making you feel really uneasy.
This is not an indication that you should quit up; it is just a symptom of teething troubles. It’s completely natural.
Push through the awkwardness—it may take some time—and write, even if it’s only for the purpose of writing.
You can always go back and repair the sloppy writing afterward.
Correct now, it’s all about getting back into the right frame of mind to work on your novel again.
The only way to achieve that is to write, even if you have to write so horribly that you’re ashamed to show it to your dog.
Don’t be scared to write sloppily.
You’ll probably despise 90% of what you’ve written. But you’ve been away for a long time. You’re out of practice.
The internet has removed the gatekeepers, allowing more individuals than ever to share their thoughts with the world. This has led to the widespread belief that everyone can write.
Sure, we can all tell a narrative, but that’s not the same as creating a book.
The authors who establish long-term writing careers understand that the more they show up, the more they get out of it.
Maintain your concentration.
While I urge you to write inside a project for the purpose of writing, don’t write for the sake of writing about anything.
Have a certain aim in mind.
Plan your story and know what you want to accomplish with each writing session.
The more concentrated you are in your work, the simpler it is to return to the proper attitude.
Perform some free writing.
Freewriting strengthens your writing muscles.
Do some freewriting from the viewpoint of one of your characters if you’re having trouble getting back into your work in progress as I did with What Happens in Barcelona. This allows you to re-enter their minds.
You don’t have to share what you write with anyone—though it may be a fun blog post for your readers—it will help you warm up your muscles before moving on to the harder material.
Make playlists that get you in the correct frame of mind.
I have an ‘Inspiration’ playlist. It’s full of songs that have influenced a lot of my work, whether it’s a storyline or subplot, some poetry (typically numerous poems), or the personality of a character.
Many of the songs in this playlist are favorites of mine, but not all of them are. It’s not so much about how much I like the music as it is about the feelings it awakens in me.
The finest songs, like the best novels, elicit intense emotional responses in their listeners.
Remember that if you sleep, you lose.
When you stop exercising for a period, your body cannot immediately resume the same amount of activity that it could when you were at its fittest. You won’t be able to sprint a mile in a minute or lift big weights if you haven’t exercised in a year. When you bend down, you may not even be able to touch your toes.
The longer you go without writing fiction, the more difficult it is to get back into it.
However, regardless of how lengthy your gap was, it is not impossible.
But, in order to succeed, you must stop being so harsh on yourself.
Your brain is like a muscle. If you don’t feed it with fiction writing (and reading fiction on a regular basis), it will build other muscles instead.
When you initially start out, take it gently and re-establish those writing muscles.
Even if it’s just a few phrases every day, it’s still more than you would have written otherwise.
Ease yourself back into writing, and you’ll be back at your best in no time.
Follow these habits: How to get back into writing
Did you take a break from writing those amazing plots? Now you’re ready to get back to using your imagination again. That’s great! Writing fiction is one of the most rewarding experiences in my life. But I took a break for about a year and followed a few principles to get back into it.
There are several reasons why you may not write for months or even years when you aren’t pursuing creative writing as a full-time profession. In other words, you can never start writing again once you stop. However, it is improbable that the previous writing talents would return in a single day after a lengthy sabbatical. It may take some time and effort to regain your former writing abilities.
After a lengthy break, it’s important to get your creative juices flowing again by establishing a writing routine and sticking to it. Here are some writing techniques and suggestions to help you go back to the art that you love:
Reading a lot is a good habit to get into. Inspiration is the best way to get back into writing after a long hiatus. It doesn’t matter what you read, although modern writers like Stephen King and Dan Brown may provide more relevant inspiration than classics from a bygone age.
Make a plan to write every day.
Anyone who has had their work published will tell you that the key to improving as a writer is to establish a schedule. Most writers like to write at the same time each day in order to get into a writing rhythm. Some writers set a word or page count goal, while others just set a timer for the amount of time they want to spend writing. For those who have a day job, they may plan their writing sessions whenever they like. The most important thing is to maintain writing for a long length of time.
Make a list of creative writing activities for yourself.
A lot of practice is all you need to get your writing muscles back in shape after a lengthy hiatus. Writing prompts are a terrific way to get started on a regular writing schedule.
Get a notebook or a digital document and write down ideas for stories.
Writer’s block is the worst thing that may stop you from getting back into the habit of writing. Maintaining a constant list of narrative and nonfiction book ideas will help you avoid this. How you go about the procedure will be determined by your own working style. Before you begin writing, you could opt to write down broad thoughts or to sketch out concepts in great detail. If you can’t come up with an idea on a blank piece of paper, then you’re not doing yourself any favors.
Take cues from the actual world.
There are many possibilities for writing projects right in front of you. In order to construct your protagonist, you should model him or her on a family member or a close friend and utilize their life experiences as a guide. Build your fictitious story’s universe using information from your own area. Take it upon yourself to do some people-watching if you don’t want to summon anybody or anything that is too personal to you. Sit in cafés or libraries and observe the people who come and go. Anyone might be the one who gives you the motivation you need.
Examine previous writing
Check over your younger self’s work and see if there’s a previous work-in-progress that you can revive. It’s possible that you’ll come up with a slew of new ways to improve what’s already there, or you’ll recall why you gave up on the project in the first place and start working on something else.
Think outside the box.
If you’re still short on ideas, try generating random concepts to start you rolling. Pick choose a book you love and use the first word from that book as the basis for the first draft of your own novel. Alternatively, you might begin with a single word and then create a sentence that explains the significance of that word. Without a framework, try freewriting—but only as a training exercise, as it’s almost impossible to write a complete novel in this manner without becoming lost. Don’t take your own tale too seriously. If you’ve been away for a long period, no one expects you to produce a Pulitzer Prize-winning piece.
As a content writer, hone your creative abilities. The two most common types of online content authoring are marketing (specifically content focused on building a brand) and technical (i.e. content that demonstrates how to accomplish something). Content writing is a more lucrative career choice than fiction writing. Getting one of these positions allows you to brush up on your writing mechanics, such as grammar, syntax, and explanations, and then use that knowledge in your creative work. Keeping a blog or a private journal is another way to practice your writing abilities.
Don’t write for the sake of writing.
The sad truth is that most tale ideas will never be published, much alone become bestsellers. So, instead of spending a lot of time trying to make your work more marketable, be loyal to your own voice. Give it a strong point of view and devote time and energy to the craft of fiction writing just because you like it.
Now it’s your turn.
How to get back into writing after taking a lengthy break? What motivates you?