“Almost everything will work if you unplug it for a few minutes…even you.”
Ahh, the thought of doing absolutely nothing. Bliss, right? Perhaps, like me, you spent months preparing for NaNoWriMo, then did NaNoWriMo, then decided you needed a month or two out.
Probably both the best and worst thing you could possibly do as a writer.
However, taking a 1 month break from my novel was needed. I’d poured so much time and effort into it in the months running up to Christmas that I burnt myself out. I did, however, get a 50k word count at the end of it.
BUT (and it’s a big but), what happens when you decide to start up again?
Well, you soon realise that you forgot where you got up to, and that you can no longer string a sentence together. That combined with the inability to think up any new ideas for the rest of your novel.
Well, it happens. We’ve all been there. I’m currently trying to find my feet again, but reading through a big chunk of text to remind yourself of what your story entails isn’t the speediest of tasks.
You gotta do it though! Here’s my plan…
Don’t write ANYTHING until you’re back up to speed.
I don’t care how long it takes. You need to read every chapter you’ve written so far before you even think about adding more to your word count.
By re-reading my novel, I remembered some crucial details that I’d forgotten about prior, which then sparked some of my initial ideas up again! I guess that serves me right for not noting them down in the first place, but at least they’re now in my notebook.
Once you’ve read your novel back to yourself, you should not only feel positively overwhelmed with what you’ve written, but you’ll also be in a perfect place to pick things up where you left off.
You’ll probably need some filler chapters.
Okay, one huge thing I realised while I did my big recap was that my story moves way too fast. You don’t actually notice it until you start from the beginning and then…
All that happens in a DAY? Holy shi-
Yeah, you need some filler chapters. Don’t drag it out too much though, because that will be boring and also unrealistic. You need the perfect balance – something which I’m still trying to find.
I’m so bad for using the, “I’ve been at work all day, I’m too tired to write” excuse. The fact is, I chose to write this book, so I need to find the time to do it. It’s not always easy, but you’ve gotta force it sometimes!
I used to always believe that you shouldn’t force yourself to write because it’ll be sloppy, and it really won’t be your best work. But, as you get older, you’ll realise that you’ll just get busier and busier, and any time you can find to write is worth its weight in gold. Take it!
Take days off.
Yes, make some time to write, but don’t make it a constant thing. Don’t forget that there is a little thing called reality, and that you can’t live inside your made up dreamworld forever. Sorry, but it’s true 😦
Make sure you do have a little time away from the screen, but only a day or two. Any longer, and you’ll get sucked into that same old rut again. Make a plan and stick to it and you’ll hopefully feel much more motivated.
Think about the finished product.
Every time I think about having a published book, a physical copy of something that I’ve created, it always makes me feel awesome. To know that I’m going to reach that point some day is incredible!
Then, I think about all the other story ideas I have and how much I wanted to get started on these. THEN, I realise that I really need to finished my current WIP before I can get started on anything else. An even bigger reason to get my head down and type some words!
Talk to other writers.
You’ll be very pleasantly surprised with how many writers are online. The writing community on Twitter is incredible! So many people want to connect with other authors and are always looking for a bit of feedback and encouragement.
Without them, I’m not entirely sure I’d be so far on with my own novel. With their support and guidance, I feel so much more motivated than I did before. Give them a chance! Use the #writingcommunity tag whenever you post about anything writing based and you’ll be surprised at the positivity you receive in return.
In future, don’t leave it so long.
Ha – good one, Em! It’s probably going to happen again at some point, and if it does, I’ll only have myself to blame. However, if you don’t feel like adding anymore to your word count, at least work on your story some other way.
I recently found my notebook I used to plan the entire of my NaNoWriMo project. I found detailed character profiles and chapter plans ready to go, and I think adding to these notes is a great way to get in the zone without necessarily ‘working on your story’.
Believe in yo’self!
If you want to write, you will. However, we all feel the need to take some time out every now and then, and, you should! It’s healthy to do so.
However, when your break is over, don’t just stay in that same rut. Look what other writers are doing in the community and feed off their productivity. Ask yourself why you can’t get back into your writing – even ask the rest of the writing community for advice!
Have you taken a big break recently? Or do you plan on taking one soon? Better still, how on Earth do you survive after your NaNoWriMo break?! It would be very interesting to hear your stories and how you get back into doing something you love 🙂
4 Comments Add yours
Fantastic advice. Good to note. Don’t take too long breaks! 😊
Returning after a break—whether it was long or short—is something every writer will face at some point in their career. And, as you’ve pointed out, it’s not as easy as it sounds! It can be really helpful—or, in some cases, necessary—to take some time to remind yourself why you write and why you love it.
I’m glad you pointed out the importance of making the time, too. Nothing else about the process matters if you ultimately don’t write the thing!
LikeLiked by 1 person
You’re so right, Sara! Still finding it difficult – life and work is getting in the way too much! Hopefully things even out soon and I can get back into a routine 😊
LikeLiked by 1 person
It’s so true that the longer you leave it, the harder it is to go back to. I also agree that it’s important to read through the whole thing before you carry on, just to refresh your memory and get back in the zone!