Sometimes we begin a new project with the best of intentions and then we set it aside for one reason or another. Maybe a life event rears its ugly head (death in the family or some other unforeseen event). Or maybe, in the case of my own recent restart, another story intervenes.
As I noted below, I started The Marshal of Agua Perlado (the sequel to the Wes Crowley trilogy I originally wrote) back on March 9 (2015).
I wrote steadily for a blazing two days before something interrupted me. That something was the writing of the first prequel, The Rise of a Warrior. Frankly, because they were separated chronologically by about twenty-five years, I thought I could write both novels at the same time.
Some writers can do that, maybe. I found out I couldn’t.
Long story short, the prequel won out.
I wrote on the sequel for four more days in a row, then skipped a week (while writing the prequel) and wrote two days in a row before the sequel drifted off to Back Burner Land.
There it remained until yesterday.
A few days ago I finished the prequel. There is at least one more prequel I want to write for this story, but the sequel, this time, took precedence. I have a feeling this thing is gonna blaze right along to the end. I’m having a ton of fun writing it, and that’s what it’s all about.
So how do you jump back in and restart after a layoff?
I suggest you follow these three steps, which I first learned from Dean Smith. But they are more common sense than some deep wisdom:
- Read back over what you’ve already written. Remember, your skills might have improved since you last worked on the project. You might read from the beginning (I did with The Marshal of Agua Perlado) or you might read only the last full scene you wrote.
- As you read back over it, allow yourself to touch it, adding and deleting here and there. You can call this a rewrite or whatever, though it really isn’t since it’s done in the subconscious, creative mind. You shouldn’t be counting the number of times you use “that,” for example, or how many times you use a particular sentence structure. This is only to get you back into the flow of the story.
- When you get back to the present in the novel, write the next sentence.
I know, that sounds simple, and it is, but it works. Write the next sentence, then write the next sentence, then write the next sentence.
You’ll be amazed how fast you will finish writing the story.
2 thoughts on “Restarting After a Layoff”
Good advice, Harvey. I too have tried going back to Credo’s Bones while writing my newest fantasy fiction, and find it difficult to wrench my mind from fantasy to modern murder mystery, back to fantasy. I Envy those who can write two or three books at once. Just not my particular talent. Thanks for those three hints.
You’re welcome. But those aren’t actually about revisiting a work you’ve finished or a second work you’re in the middle of. They’re for restarting a work that was interrupted by whatever life events. In your particular case, though, I’d recommend finishing whatever your currently writing first, straight through. Then go back to Bones and follow the hints. 🙂 (Folks, her Credo series is excellent. I can only barely wait for her to finish another one.)
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