Getting Back Into the Swing of Things

I have a confession to make. I haven’t written anything new in six months.

My hiatus started after writing 12,000 words of a new novel, and realizing that it wasn’t the story I wanted to tell. This led me to plotting the story I did want to tell, and realizing that I didn’t have the time or brain power to write it – even a first draft.

So, I put my computer down for a while and focused on other things; some light editing of novels I have been querying and a few blog posts. I read a whole lot, mostly YA that I consider professional research.

I found You Tube.

Side note: If you read “I found You Tube” and gasped, then you too have fallen down the very wide, very deep rabbit hole of online content.

I watched dozens of You Tube web series with relatable content to what I write. This led me to podcasts with fresh perspectives of what “kids these days” are into. I have to admit I spent quite a bit of time in the online content pit of doom. I learned quite a bit too! But, I finally emerged, mostly to focus on directing a musical for my middle school. I am an art teacher, but I have a bachelors and masters degree in theatre, and decided to put them to good use.

Now I find myself on the other side of my hiatus. Brain cells restored, ready for the new year, I am faced with a looming question. What Do I Work On Next?

It’s like a multiple choice question that you are faced with in a nightmare, one with no correct answer, although you know there is a right answer and if you don’t pick the right one you’ll fail the test, and you may or may not be wearing pants.

Question 1: What will you work on next? (circle your answer)

a) Start fresh, write something completely new

b) Edit, edit, edit. Pick up something you already have and shine it up

c) Write the one that scares you – go on, you’ve already plotted it out

d) Try your hand at some flash fiction

e) Maybe revisit audiobooks

f) Start your own podcast – hey why not, all the cool kids are doing it

g) Write a web series, gosh golly, how hard could it be? (palm to the forehead)

h) Workshop that musical you wrote a decade back and figure out how to use the midi on your electric piano

i) Just focus on querying, don’t worry about new content at all

j) Try your hand at picture books

k) Join the circus (just checking to see if you were paying attention)

l) Take a writing class

m) Give writing up altogether and take up macramé

n) Breathe. Recharge and let inspiration happen on its own time. When you know, you'll know

Whatever it is that I end up working on, I know it will be the right thing. Happy Writing in the new year, and may inspiration guide all of you Writers’ Rumpus readers out there.

Feel free to share your multiple choice O – Z list below and add to the rumpus!


  1. It can be hard knowing when to push and when to give yourself a break. I feel like patience/not rushing things is often underrated in the world of aspiring writers, with an overemphasis on time spent/words written vs quality of what you produce. I do think taking breaks from what you’ve written is really valuable. On the flip side, sometimes just forcing myself to sit down and write for frequent-if short-intervals really helps. Ultimately, I try to remind myself that I’m doing this b/c I want to, not b/c I have to, and not to torture myself if it’s not happening quickly.

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  2. You are a good list maker and that’s a creative range of possibilities (including trying to get someone else to choose for you. Clever ploy.) Maybe O could be to start drawing the characters in the story that scares you the most. Once you bring them to life perhaps they will take over.

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  3. Alison, I loved this post. It’s funny and refreshing to hear how other writers’ approach challenges. Personally, I think if you’re tied up in knots about this whole writing thing, macrame is the way to go!

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  4. Alison, this is so much fun! I keep telling myself I should be doing i,but am compelled to do a. Except it was pointed out I was really doing b. But it’s an all- new imagining of a story that never got beyond chapter 2, so I’m clinging to a with all my might. If I had an ounce of balance or coordination,I would probably choose k!

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  5. Kind of B – I just submitted a first round of R&R to an agent (fingers crossed!) and am struggling to outline my next book. After seven YEARS of struggling to write my first* I’m not sure I’m feeling as connected to this MS. It makes logical sense, but I don’t quite know how to fix it. 😦

    *In my defense, I had distractions including but not limited to: cross-country move to a difficult place, surprise baby born premature, and my getting hit by a truck.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Hi! I am actually leaning towards B myself at the moment. It can never hurt to revisit an oldie but a goodie. Sometimes we just have to let the writing take us where it wants to go, and hopefully keep distractions to a minimum (hope you’re okay!) Good luck with your R&R! Exciting!

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Thank you! Maybe I just need to recalibrate. I feel like I have half a MS and that’s obviously not going to work.
        And I appreciate the well-wishes – we have moved to really bizarre corner of the world and as a result I’ve had to fight tooth and nail to get medical care. It’s extremely frustrating, and writing helps me continue to feel empowered.

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