As you know if you follow me on Twitter and/or Instagram, this winter break I’ve gotten back to working on TLM, my second novel. Because I’m in grad school, I don’t really have the time or energy to write during the school year, so this has been my first time working on it again since August. And this isn’t the first time I’ve gone long periods without writing; it’s pretty much how I’ve done things over the past few years. With school, my health, and when I was teaching, I’ve generally gone anywhere from one and four months in between times when I’ve written. Since I’ve done this for several years, I want to draw on my experience to help you if you ever find yourself in this position. Whether it’s because life happened or because you hit writer’s block (or any other reason!), you can totally get back into writing regularly after taking a break.
What I’ve Done:
– Write when possible: I talked about this in my post about how I wrote a novel in high school, but the biggest tool you have is taking advantage of the time you have to write. It doesn’t matter if you only have one hour; use it to write. Waiting for an appointment? Write. If you don’t get motion sickness (I’m really jealous), write on the train or the bus. Basically, don’t wait for the perfect circumstance to write because it doesn’t exist.
– Read when possible: One of the best ways to improve your writing is to read. Read a wide variety of writers and topics. Expose yourself to different points of view and different writing styles. This will help you be a better writer. And I strongly suggest you read (if possible) during your writing breaks, too! Aside from my reading for school, I’m always reading at least one book, even if that reading is listening on Audible*. That still counts as reading! I personally have a monthly Audible membership where I pay $15 a month and get 1 credit to use on any book – even if that book would be $35 or more to purchase on Audible. Also, if you struggle to find time to read or to finish a book, Anne at Modern Mrs. Darcy has some great tips for reading more.
– Made myself sit down and write: As I said above, don’t wait for the right circumstance to write. Just make yourself do it. One way to do this is to block off time in your day or week to write. If you’re a planner person, make an appointment with yourself to write. Write it down and treat it like you have a meeting; that’s your writing time and it’s sacred. Sometimes, I find myself trying to find excuses because I’m just not in the “zone,” but the truth is that you need to treat it like a job. Waiting for the zone to appear won’t make it! You need to write regardless of if the writing muse appears.
– Planned out the scenes I needed to write: This can come down to your personal writing style (especially pantser vs. plotter), but I find it helpful to know what I’m going to write about. In my case, this break I was having trouble making real headway in TLM, so I wrote out all the scenes that needed to happen between where I was and the end. Of course, it helps that I’m relatively close to the end of the first draft, but I found this so helpful to get focused. When I sat down to write, I knew what the scene was about, but how I was going to write it wasn’t clear. I didn’t feel stifled since the scene’s description was something like, “Becky arrives home and she and Anne argue” (yes, that’s a real scene that I wrote last week!). Doing this helped me focus on what I needed to get out onto paper, especially since my rule has been that I can’t stop writing for the day until I finish the scene.
– Got rid of distractions: With everything going on (and the Internet), it is way too easily to be distracted from writing. Whether it be from social media or things going on around you, distractions will probably be a problem for you. Find a way to cut them out as much as possible. For me, I generally turn the Internet off on my computer, put on music, and sit at a desk or table so that it feels like a work session. Other times, I’ll go to a coffee shop and do something similar because then I’m not physically near a TV or a book that I’m reading.
Advice from Others:
4 Ways to Work through a Creative Block – Cooks and Books
How do you get back into the writing zone after a break?