Many writers have been given the advice of “keep your day job”. Additionally, writers often start writing at a young age, when school is still a priority. And aside from this, there are friends, family, and homes to tend to. In short, writers are rarely just writers. This means that as much as we want to make writing our first priority, there are times we just can’t. It’s not reasonable for us to blow off our academic or professional responsibilities. And in times when these things are at their most demanding, writing falls by the wayside. My latest experience with this occurred during this semester’s round of finals. One of the biggest challenges I’ve experienced as a writer is getting back into writing after taking a leave of absence. So today I want to take a look at some tactics I use to get back to writing after having to take some time off.
Rebuild the habit.
They say that it takes someone 21 days to create a new habit. For the next 21 days, schedule a specific time to write, and it doesn’t have to be long. Just enough to get you writing often and regularly. All it takes is three weeks of writing, even just fifteen minutes a day. After this you develop the habit, you can begin increasing the amount of time you spend by five minutes every few days. Before you know it, you’ll be dedicating an hour or so to writing each day!
Reading your own writing.
This step is especially important if you are working on a longer, novel-length work. Not only will it help you remember where you were in the plot, but more importantly, it will get you back into the voice and tone of the work. One of the easiest ways to re-enter the headspace for a particular project is to read it. Keep in mind, though, you are not reading to edit! If you get too bogged down with editing what you’ve already written, you may never get back to the actual writing.
Journaling is a great way to practice writing on a regular basis, but it can be especially helpful if you’ve taken a break from writing altogether. What I love about journaling is you have the freedom to write, knowing that no one will ever see it. This fluid form of writing will definitely help get the pen flowing.
Read other people’s writing.
Finding inspiration to write can often come from other people’s writing. I feel that there are two separate skills required for writing a story. First, there is the art of writing. Forming beautiful sentences and finding the right words are definitely important, and reading other books can help with that, too. But if you are reading to getting back into writing, then I actually think it’s the other skill you should focus on. That is storytelling. Reading other people’s writing will help you rediscover storytelling the plot structure.
Write from prompts.
Writing prompts are a great way to jog your creativity. Much like journaling, writing prompts let you write freely without restraints of a plot, or character, or theme. What’s also great about writing prompts, is that they can spark further ideas. When I do writing prompts, I get to the end, and can barely tell what the prompt was. Ideas are able to morph naturally. Writing prompts are able to draw out your own ideas so that you can take them and run!
Watch interviews from other authors.
I often draw inspiration from watching other, published writers discuss their work and their process. I’m always driven to work harder when I see other people living the life I hope to have someday. Watching other people achieve their goals always inspires me to work towards mine.
Revisit your quarterly goals.
Because you made goals, right? RIGHT??? There’s nothing like looking at how hard you’re failing at your goals to get you motivated!
Speaking of failing goals, you may have noticed that I, due to my own leave of writing absence, have neglected my blog. To make up for this and at least make this goal a half win, I will be posting a couple of times a week for the next few weeks. I figure if I can at least have the number of posts correct, even if they weren’t put up at the right time, that’s something! Leave a comment, and let me know what you do to get back into writing when life gets in the way.