It doesn’t matter how long you spend away from writing; a month, a year, several years; it’s always going to be difficult to get back into it. Especially if you’re returning to an ‘abandoned’ project.
In last week’s blog post I spoke about the things I learned in a year of no writing. Today, I’d like to talk about how I eventually arrived back at my story and my 5 tips to other writer’s looking to get back to their projects.
Please note; I am focusing primarily on returning to a specific project, in this case a novel, however some of the tips will apply to anyone generally getting back into writing.
1- Join the Writing Community
I’ve put this as number one because it’s been the most beneficial to me. You may already be a part of the ‘writer’s community’ and by that I mean the social media presence of published writers and aspiring writers alike. Be it through blogging platforms, facebook, twitter or instagram you can find writers like you everywhere – and they’re full of support! I took to instagram to find my place in the community (@uninspiredwriters) and the support, inspiration and advice I got from the people on there has overwhelmed me. I truly believe that they are the reason I managed to get back to my novel with such enthusiasm and dedication. Never underestimate the power of a kind word or a nod of encouragement.
2- Re-Read (But do not judge or edit yourself)
I was quite nervous after leaving my project abandoned at 30,000 words; a brilliant start, but still with such a long way to go. Many writer’s will advise you to keep pushing forward with your first draft and not to look back until the end, and I agree with this to an extent. But in this case, it was important for me to remember which scenes I’d written, how far along I was, what my character’s were doing when I left them. I’d say if you’ve been away from your story for some time it’s near impossible to continue without reminding yourself of your ‘story so far’. However, do not judge or edit yourself! This comes after the first draft, and it’d be so easy to get caught up editing what you have already, instead of doing what really matters; telling your story.
Re-reading mine I felt disheartened in parts; am I really that bad at writing? And encouraged in others; Wow! That sentence came from me?! But do not let any negative feelings towards you’re writing weigh you down. The first draft is not about writing beautifully or perfectly. It’s about telling your story.
3 – Make a List of Scenes
I began aimlessly writing from where I left of, in a haze of confusion about my plot. So, one evening, I decided to sit down and write a list of scenes that had to happen. I didn’t focus on where I’d need filler to link these scenes, just the key points that I knew had to happen in my plot. Now, here’s something important; there were scenes I wanted to write, but couldn’t decide if they’d actually be relevant in my story; would they make the final cut? It doesn’t matter! Write them anyway. Everything you write will tell you more about your characters and stories and if you don’t use the scene in the end it may inspire another part of your story. Get those scenes down. If you’re writing from multiple view points do it for everyone that has a story to tell. Once I’d written out a list of scenes, finishing my novel seemed so much more achievable. Hopefully it will for you too.
4- Write those scenes – randomly!
I’m not saying don’t write those scenes in the order you set out. You have to write in the way that you prefer. For me, there were times when I had no motivation or inspiration to write the scene that came next. I couldn’t work out how I wanted it and so I was tempted to give up working on my novel until the next day. But then, scouring my list, I saw one scene that I knew exactly how I wanted it to go. So I wrote that instead. It was a few scenes along from where I was at in my novel, so I popped it into a notebook, ready to refer back to when I reach that part. By the time I was finished I was so excited about my story again that I’d figured out how to go back to my next chronological scene and get writing!
5. Visit your Setting (if possible!)
Nothing will inspire you more than experiencing the environment where your characters live/work/explore. See what they will see, smell what they will smell, hear what they will hear. It’s the perfect way to get into their shoes and therefore write accurate descriptions. You may even find inspiration along the way!
Now, I know this isn’t always possible. If your story is set in a different country you can’t just fly on over. But trying to get into a similar environment will be effective too. For example, if you’re writing about a city that you can’t simply visit, go to a city that you can. There will be similarities in the setting. Alternatively, you may not be able to visit your setting because it doesn’t exist! If you’re writing fantasy you may have created your own world. But try again with the similarity thing. If you’re land has deep, dark forests; find a forest! I’m yet to think of a cool example of how to do this if your novel is set in the future! Any ideas? Comment below…
I hope that this blog post has been insightful for you; if even one of these tips provides useful to any one person I will be very pleased.
Happy Sunday, everyone and remember;