10 Ways To Return to Writing Regularly
Okay, that's not exactly true. I've been writing blog posts, guest posts, interviews and comments on my client's work. I've been writing in my journal every morning. But I haven't been writing writing. I haven't been working on my WIP.
Until this week.
In my case, I had a wonderful reason not to be writing: my novel, Emma Jean's Bad Behavior, was recently released and I got caught up in the hoopla surrounding that. But in the past, I've gotten distracted for the most mundane of reasons: all the events of day-to-day life. There's just no two ways about it, it's easy to get distracted from your writing.
But this week, as I said, I've started back into working on my WIP. It took me awhile, but I'm back. Watch out world! It didn't happen all at once, however. I don't think it ever does. Getting back to writing regularly is a process. I found ways to ease myself back into it, which I share with you here:
1. Download Scrivener. This writing software for writers is intuitive and helpful–who knew such a thing was possible? I'm still playing around with it, going through the tutorial, but I think it's going to be wonderful. And I feel like I just got a new toy at Christmas, which alone is worth it because it makes me want to go play with it. You can get a free 30-day trial here.
2. Direct your thoughts. Consciously tell yourself to think about your novel, as in when you are driving, when you are vacuuming, when you are walking the dog. It's also especially good to do this when you're thinking negative thoughts about how you're not writing. Direct those thoughts to pondering character or plot instead.
3. Take notes. I'm a huge fan of jotting things down, because it leads to more jotting and before you know it you're in the middle of writing a scene. Put all the ideas you get from #3 onto paper. The other thing that happens is that ideas breed with each other, like rabbits. Soon you'll have so many of them you'll be at the page writing.
4. Familiarize yourself. On the most basic level, this is about getting accustomed to working on the novel again. Remember where the files are stored on your computer, stare at your vision board, recall where you were in the manuscript when last you wrote.
5. Take micro action. Now that you've gotten oriented again, set yourself a very small task. Like, opening one file. I'm not kidding. Set yourself up for one tiny action and call it good. This is a way of tricking yourself back into interacting with the work regularly.
6. Research. Reconnecting with the ideas and topics of your novel can get you excited about it again. Make a Pinterest board for actresses who might play your character or locations in your novel. Do a Google search for that obscure subject that fascinated when you began. Look for images of your settings.
7. Use bursts. Feeling ready to write? Okay! Set a timer for 30 minutes and do nothing else but write until the buzzer goes off. This means no surfing the internet, no looking at email, no chatting on the phone, no getting up to get more coffee. At the end of 30 minutes, you get to take a break. Then start the process over again.
8. Read! Nothing makes me want to write more than reading. I just got a Kindle (last person on the planet to do so, I know) and I'm amazed at how it enables me to devour books. Which, in turn, makes me want to cover pages with words. Most of us come to writing because we love reading so much, so use that impulse to propel your work.
9. Reread. While you're in a reading mode, go reread your WIP. From the beginning. Immerse yourself fully in the world you've created so that you can go forth and make it come even more alive.
10. Create a vessel. Commit to a schedule of some sort. Now, I am the first one to struggle with this–I end up rebelling against myself. But when I wrote Emma Jean, I rose every day at 5 to work on it before the day began. When I wrote my previous (unpublished) novel, I was earning my MFA and I had deadlines for 35-50 pages every week. Each of these examples enabled me to complete a novel.
So there you have it–my rundown of how to get back to writing regularly. Have you tried any of these, or something else? What works best for you? I'd love to hear about it in the comments.