You meant to write—you really did—but life got in the way. Things got busy, summer arrived, you took a vacation and never fell back into your regular writing rhythm. Or maybe you just needed a break, and so you took it. Whatever the reason, it’s been a little while since you sat down at the keyboard to write . . . and now the thought of doing so is totally overwhelming. Terrifying even.
What will you write? What even are words? How do you put them together?
Did you really used to know how to do this???
These are some of the questions you may find yourself asking as you sit there staring blankly at the screen. Don’t panic! It’s completely normal to feel off kilter and out of sorts after a dry spell—but there are things you can do to ease yourself back into the practice of writing!
- Re-read your WIP: This is a great way to reacquaint yourself with your story while also getting those neurons firing away with new ideas and possibilities. When I re-read my work after a break, it helps me fall back in love with my characters and makes me excited to move their story forward.
- Re-read past work: If you’re not in the middle of a project, or if you’re not ready to dive back in yet, try reading an older piece of your own writing you feel particularly proud of. This will give you a boost of confidence and remind you what it feels like to write something you love, which may help you get started again.
- Free write: Sometimes we seize up at the keyboard because we’re out of practice and feel self-conscious about our efforts. If this is you, try lowering the stakes a little by free-writing in a stream-of-consciousness style. Write whatever thoughts pass through your head. Once you get past ‘this is stupid’ and ‘I’m still pissed about that thing that happened the other day,’ you’ll eventually get around to free-writing about your writing and any anxiety you feel about it, which can help you work through those feelings. And if you move on to free-writing about your story, you may find yourself slipping from free-writing into actual writing . . . this has happened to me on more than one occasion.
- Use a writing prompt: If you’re unsure exactly what to write next or you don’t yet feel up to tackling that shiny new idea just yet, you can try writing exercises such as prompts to get you started. You can find writing prompts online–just Google ‘writing prompts’ and you’ll find dozens of sites full of prompt ideas. Like free-writing, writing prompts help lower the stakes because you aren’t as invested in the outcome as you would be when, for example, you’re crafting the first lines or chapters of your new book.
Do you have any other tips for how to get started with your writing practice again after a break? Please share them in the comments below!