Recently I realised that my Work-in-Progress – my beloved second novel – has not advanced a word in about seven months. This hasn’t been by choice. A bout of illness left me exhausted, struggling to just get through a normal day, never mind keeping up with writing in my spare time. I love my WIP. I love my main character – well, he’s been in my life for just over two years so I’d have to – and the plot is coming together. Plus I’ve written more than 60,000 words on it so giving up is simply not an option.But how do you restart a project when you’ve had so much time away from it that you can’t remember what you were going to say next? I have a few ideas as to how I’m going to do it:
1. Carve out writing time in your week – I can’t write every day, I know this for a fact, my body simply will not allow it. But if you make a writing date with yourself twice a week for up to an hour at a time that seems manageable and will help you to get started.
2. Printing out and reading the story so far – usually you only do this once you have a completed manuscript but if you can resist editing as you go it will give you a chance to get reacquainted with the story and the characters and you’ll probably get a clear idea of where you were planning to go.
3. Pace yourself – remember you’re just getting back into the project, Don’t beat yourself up if it seems like rubbish and it takes a while to get going – that’s what the editing phase is for. Also, don’t throw yourself into the project and start spending every hour God sends on it. You’ll just wear yourself out and end up back to square one.
4. Be prepared for setbacks – no plan is ever carried out without a few slip-ups and alterations being required. Keep your long-term goal in mind, but be prepared to be flexible in how you approach your return to writing. Always remember the story of the hare and the tortoise – slow and steady wins the game!
So, this is the plan I’ll be following over the coming months. I predict that within a week or two I’ll be moving things around to allow for more writing time, and if I were feeling really confident I’d set a date by which I should complete my WIP. But, looking back at point 4, I’m reminded that I’m supposed to be enjoying a return to writing and not setting myself unnecessary deadlines. I know I’ll finish the novel, because I’ve finished one before, so I just have to be patient and wait for the writing bug to bite me again. I’ll keep you posted! Wish me luck!
What’s the longest period you’ve gone without writing? Did you have any tricks for getting yourself back in the habit? Please share them below in the comments section.