Imagine my surprise when I checked my calendar this morning and realized it was February. Where did the time go? It seemed like yesterday I was watching Hallmark Christmas movies and making plans for the New Year. I realize now how little progress I’ve made in my writing.
That’s because since November, I’ve had numerous distractions, from demanding job assignments and household responsibilities to holiday celebrations and catching up on sleep. With everything that was on my plate, creative writing wasn’t a priority. I’m barely making my weekly deadline for posting to my blog.
Contributing to this scheduling mess was the fact I had completed writing a sports romance, but was having second thoughts about its viability. I knew I had to re-read it and edit it further, but my eyes just weren’t seeing the solutions to my storytelling problems. I began to doubt the story – and by extension, my writing. Was I producing anything worthwhile, or was I wasting my time?
So I set aside the novel until I felt ready to edit it again. I was feeling so overwhelmed by the task that I took a break from it. I needed the time to regroup to figure out my next steps.
So now it’s February, and though I have dabbled writing a Christmas novella through the holidays, I have nothing concrete to show for my efforts. It’s time to get serious about writing again. But where do I begin?
I’m not alone. After reading this recent post by author K.M. Weiland, I realized I’m not alone in taking a sabbatical from writing. Weiland shared her own struggles with writing again after taking a lengthy break, and she shared the steps she’s taking to get back to writing again. Sometimes you have to step away from it to gain perspective about how far you’ve come and where to go next.
So how does one begin to get back on track? The experts at Masterclass suggest having a plan for building up your writing practice and getting those creative juices flowing again. Here are a few possible ways to get started writing again.
- Start small. You can’t always just dive into the swimming pool. Sometimes you need to get your feet wet first. That might mean sitting at poolside with your feet dangling into the water. Or maybe you start further by wading in the shallow end for a few minutes before getting back out. The truth is you don’t have to spend hours on Day 1 playing catch up with your writing. Start writing shorter pieces, such as an essay, a poem or flash fiction. It might be easier to get your creative juices flowing this way, and you might feel more accomplished finishing that first short piece.
- Limit your writing time. Using a timer or clock, set it for a specified time, say 30 minutes. When the timer rings, stop writing, no matter where you are on the page. OR…give yourself a word limit or page limit, such as 300 words or one page. In smaller chunks, you may not feel as overwhelmed by the writing process.
- Don’t be hard on yourself. If you get too busy or feel overwhelmed, it’s okay to skip a day of writing. Some people feel pressure to write every day like the so-called writing experts suggest. Sometimes it’s not feasible. Although, I must admit, having a regular schedule helps me stick to my writing practice.
- Schedule your writing time. If you’re the type of person who routinely plans your day and keeps doctor appointments, try scheduling your writing time. On your calendar or appointment book, block out a chunk of time for writing. As mentioned before, start small, say 15 minutes or a half hour.
- Comb through old writing projects. You probably have a file or desk drawer filled with unfinished stories. Pull them out, read through them and see if they spark your imagination. By reviewing old material, you might get ideas for new projects or ways to rewrite what you’ve already written.
- Try writing prompts. This might jumpstart those creative juices that you haven’t used in a while, and the exercises are short enough that they don’t require a huge time commitment.
- Take a writing class or attend a workshop. Immersing yourself into the world of writing can inspire you to begin writing more. There might be in-session exercises to get those creative ideas going again. Reading a book about writing might also do the trick.
- Remember that nothing is perfect. Whatever we put on the page is never pretty. Focus on getting ideas down, then go back and edit later. That’s when the real writing begins.
With these strategies in your pocket, you’ll be back to writing regularly in no time, and with greater motivation and inspiration. It’s never too late to start or (restart) a writing practice.