Getting Back To Writing

I was out of town last week and I didn't do any writing.  (Yes, you read blog posts while I was gone. I had them scheduled ahead of time.)  I didn't even have my computer with me, which was shocking even to me.  I never go anywhere without my computer (except to France, but I wrote on my Ipad while there).

I knew ahead of time that I would be in meetings and working on reports unrelated to writing while gone and so I didn't  attempt to write.  I was so busy (and then brain dead at the end of the day) that I didn't even think about my writing.

Which was fine.  Then I returned home.  And my brain refused to connect with any of my creative writing projects.  It was as if they were just gone.  The current novel I love?  Couldn't remember what it was about.  That short story I've been working on?  Hmmm, remind me who the characters are again?

But, in the words of none other than the Dude himself, this aggression will not stand, man.

And so I set out to get back to my writing.  Here's what I did:

I re-read my work.  Fortunately for me, my critique group meets this week and I needed to send a chapter to them.  So that became my entry point–re-reading the chapter I'd written before I left and doing some light editing on it.  Oh, that's right.  I remember what's going on here.  From there, I got interested in how I'd envisioned the plot and I re-read my scene list.  And made some small changes.  And from there, I remembered a new character I'd thought up and wanted to create a dossier for–and whadda you know, I was writing.

As I re-read, I took notes.  I love notes.  Notes are my best friend.  I think they should be yours, too.  Notes prime the pump.  They get story ideas going.  They reconnect you to your work. Notes are amazing.  Take lots of notes.  They will lead you back to your writing.  (It is worth pointing out that I take notes by hand and I think you should, too.  This is part of why they work–because you're utilizing a different part of the brain than when you are on the computer.  Or at least that's what it feels like.)

Finally, I did research. What writer doesn't love research?  It can be the best procrastination device ever.  But in this case it helped me get back to my writing by delivering some interesting litle tidbits that sparked ideas.

So that's how I got back to my writing this week.  These are simple techniques you can use any time you've been away from your writing for awhile, or if you are experiencing the dreaded writer's block.

So, tell me–what do you do to get back to your writing after being away from it for awhile?



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12 Responses to Getting Back To Writing

  1. Kayla Dawn Thomas 02/04/2014 at 11:53 #

    I try really hard not to completely get away from writing. I’ve found it really screws with my mojo if I do. If I travel and don’t take my laptop, I at least use Index Card on my iphone to keep story ideas. And, like you, I love making notes by hand in my journal, so that always goes. Even if my scribbles aren’t related to my project, I’m still engaging my writing muscle so it doesn’t atrophy too far.

  2. Charlotte Dixon 02/04/2014 at 13:01 #

    Yes, I agree–this was a very rare week for me.  I always carry a journal of some sort, but I didn't even write in that. I suppose taking a break once in awhile is a good thing.

  3. J.D. 02/04/2014 at 15:39 #

    Where is Sandy? I owe her an apology. Re-reading is a must and then when I re-read, I say who wrote this crap. Isn’t it interesting how after two weeks what you actually typed is so different from what you thought was going on the page? Notes while you re-read are great! Charlotte, some of your suggestions have prompted me to use the first re-read or rewrite to break the thing into scenes. I once heard–I think it was her–Janet Fitch speak about writing “White Oleander.” She described a night when she had the chapters spread on her kitchen floor, trying to decide what order they should be in. We all know how crazy it can be. That’s why the notes are so helpful. Thanks for pointing it out. You always have such great advice.

  4. Charlotte Dixon 02/04/2014 at 16:23 #

    Thanks, J.D, I'm just glad my advice is helpful to you.  And I'm glad you are working on your story–I really enjoyed reading it.  I think it is the eternal struggle of the writer to get what we envision in our heads onto the page.  A lifetime challenge!

  5. Zan Marie 02/05/2014 at 06:21 #

    Rereading and notes work for me, too. Diana Gabaldon (who is in Scotland at he moment filming a cameo in the upcoming TV adaption of OUTLANDER) suggests opening a document and writing “what I know about this story” at the top and then just let the fingers fly. That always works for her to get the juices flowing again–priming the pump so to speak.

  6. Charlotte Dixon 02/05/2014 at 06:35 #

    Oooh, I love that tip, Zan Marie!  Thank you!  And I bet you are excited about the TV series!

  7. Zan Marie 02/05/2014 at 08:54 #

    Everyone at the Forum is giddy. 😉 Since Books and Writers is Diana’s internet home, we get first-hand info. The casting is spot on and Diana couldn’t be happier with the way the producers, costumers, and scriptwriters are staying true to her story. In fact, the TPTP at STARZ say to tell the book. They’re behind it too. It’s going to be wonderful!

  8. Charlotte Dixon 02/05/2014 at 10:04 #

    I can't wait to see it myself! Glad everyone is so happy about it.

  9. Don Williams 02/05/2014 at 14:03 #

    GUILT! There, I said it. Yes, good old-fashion guilt! Sooner or later guilt will force me, one way or the other, to get back to writing. After a long period I finally gone back to writing, or should I say rewriting, things that I’ve started a long, long time to go. Oh, a good critique like the one I received recently (you know who you are!) can also be a big help in facing the demons of procrastination and getting me to get back to what I should have done ages ago.

  10. Charlotte Dixon 02/05/2014 at 14:40 #

    I hate to say it, but you are so right–guilt does work!  We think of it as negative but when it leads you back to your writing, it is definitely positive.  And I'm so glad the critique was helpful.  It was my pleasure to read your story.

  11. Robyn LaRue 02/06/2014 at 15:30 #

    This is essentially what I do. Before I begin writing the book, I pre-write by hand, asking a ton of questions and getting the details down. Whenever I get stuck, I read the pre-write and know where I am. :)

  12. Charlotte Dixon 02/06/2014 at 15:45 #

    I take a lot of notes and do a lot of free writing before I start and whenever I get stuck throughout the project.  I think pre-writing is essential!

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