Note: I’m posting this one again now as a lead-in to the post that’s coming next week. I’ve also revised this post so it’s up to date.
This is a common problem for all writers. We all have to stop writing at various times for different reasons. The trick is to get started again.
I’m not talking about stopping writing once an hour or so to move around a bit. I’m talking here about stopping for the day and coming back to a blank page. Or stopping because Life Happens, perhaps you become ill or a loved one has a problem you have to deal with or whatever.
When those life events happen (and they happen to everyone), if you’re a mechanic, you deal with the life event, then go back to your job. If you’re a lawyer, same thing. If you’re a postal worker or a tuba player in the local symphony. If you’re a writer, after the life event you go back to writing. You start again, or restart.
But what if you don’t want to?
It’s extremely easy to allow yourself “time off” from your writing when you have no valid reason for doing so. What’s that? You don’t need a reason? So you don’t need a reason to stop doing your job? Remember, I’m talking to writers here. Writers write.
If you feel like you need to just not write for awhile for whatever reason, check in with yourself: which fear is requiring you to want “time off” from writing?
- Fear that once you finish you’ll have to submit it for publication or publish it?
- Fear that an editor will reject your work?
- Or if you self-publish, fear that some other reader won’t like it?
- Or perhaps you just realized you’re working on a NOVEL, this huge thing, and you’re feeling overwhelmed, like no possible way can you finish something so large and intimidating. Is that it?
Whatever fear is keeping you from writing, remember that it’s not an actual limitation. It’s a false limitation, a mirage.
When you identify that fear, push it down and get started again. Just put your fingers on the keyboard and write what comes. Smile. Enjoy it. Have fun!
If your immediate mental response to all this began with “But,” again, check in with yourself. Identify the fear. Laugh at it, push it down and write.
If you’re in the midst of a work in progress (WIP), the same thing applies. Read a bit of what you’ve written (a paragraph or two or three) to remind yourself of where you are in the storyline, then put your fingers on the keyboard and just write whatever comes.
Remember, your subconscious knows the story better than you do.
Ah, but what if nothing comes? Then chances are you need to begin a whole new scene. Don’t worry about chronology for now. Just Write. You can move scenes around later if necessary.
Just so you know, I’m not talking from on high here. This happens to me regularly. Especially while writing Wes 2 (file name for my second novel in a series) I find myself suddenly feeling overwhelmed. I know it’s going to be a novel, so I sometimes slip into feeling overwhelmed.
It’s like the old joke, How do you eat an elephant? The answer applies, of course: One bite at a time.
The notion that I have to “write a novel” is overwhelming. But writing a scene is easy. It’s fun. I get to run and play with my friends for an hour or so.
Then I take a break, then write another scene. Then another. Then another. Eventually, I eat the whole elephant, but only one bite at a time.
Try it. It works. I promise.
‘Til next time, happy writing!
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