How to Get Back to Writing after a Break

Writing may be your passion but sometimes life or other commitments come in the way and writing drops off your radar. If you don’t write for a living then it is even harder to get back to it. It seems like writing is something you do for fulfilment and as a creative pursuit and heck, we do push back the me-things when other things are overwhelming.

It has happened to me time and again. One week I would be writing furiously, churning out words, ideas, dreams and then suddenly something would come up and writing would be the last thing on the agenda. These days grow into weeks and sometimes months and getting back just seems tougher.

So, what do I do? There are many ways I get back to my writing. Sometimes one approach works, sometimes the other and at times it has to be a combination.

Here they are:

Ease back into it

You know that you have to get back to writing. Pat yourself on the head (try not to be too patronising) and start small. If you are into fiction, write a 100 word story. Write a haiku if you write poetry. Flip through the pages of your WIP if you want to revise and edit. Give yourself the space and time to get back to the things you love.

I do this easing-back-in when I have had a tough time, strict deadlines and tiring commitments to catch up. I need the TLC not the discipline.

Just Do It

The exact opposite of the first approach, this involves sitting into that damned chair and not getting up till you write something substantial. You might require the assistance of finger snacks (non greasy), coffee at your elbow and some tissues (you might not cry at the unexpected beauty of your writing but you certainly need to wipe those crumbs off your fingers and blot out the coffee cup stain from the table).

This approach works for me when I have been procrastinating for too long and thinking up of silly excuses for why I am not writing. I don’t need sympathy, I need a kick in the backside.

Read and Write

Pick up your current read. If you haven’t read anything meaningful in a while, then dust off your favourite book and flip through the pages. The words would jump at you and soon you would be lost in the fictional world. The writing would impress upon your mind the sheer beauty of the written word and remind you (hopefully) of all the things that you yourself want to say. You realise that life is short (it would be good if your favourite book has a dying character in it) and you need to catch hold of all those grains of sand that have been slipping through the hourglass and write.

I am an enthusiastic reader and I generally have a book or two I can get back to (e-readers ensure that I don’t have to dust my books). But there are times when I have upto four unfinished books and at those times, I have to force myself to finish them (not off) one by one so that I can get back into the flow of the narrative and then on to my own voice.

Become a Copycat

Again, pick a book. Read a little, a couple of pages would do. Zero in to a passage you especially like. Judge it, by the choice of words, the length of the sentences, the cadence of the language, the tone of the story. Pick one dominating element and write your own passage using that element.

If you like the dreaminess of a work; write about the dreaminess of your unforgettable meal. If you are struck by the choice of short, powerful words in a passage, attempt to recreate that pace through the choice of similar words on a topic that is close to your heart. You’ll get back to your mojo in no time.

There are dog people and then there are cat people. I am neither; I scream at the merest proximity of even a beaked creature. The nearest I can come is to be a Copycat and it generally works very well to get back to my own style.

Take a Pledge

Imagine the Bible or the religious scripture you have an affinity for. Think yourself taking an oath with it being the witness. Decide now how much you are going to write and with what frequency. If you are back in the flow, stay in the flow. Don’t let this exercise at getting back be wasted.

Not overly religious? Never fear, think of foregoing your favourite pizza or the Netflix binge watching if you don’t stick to your writing goals.

I like to make a virtual promise for my writing goals. NaNoWriMo is a wonderful time and so is the Camp NaNoWriMo platform. I promise, put it into writing and post on my blog. There are a few friends who serve exclusively as my boasting boards and I make sure that I tell them of my promise so that the fear of looking small pulls me back into the writing chair.

I am collecting tips and tricks for getting back to writing after a break. Please share yours with me.

How many of the above tips resonate with you?

24 thoughts on “How to Get Back to Writing after a Break

  1. Great tips! I’ve tried all of them — and am currently doing Camp NaNo precisely to get myself back on track. My big block is usually not on writing new words but on revising stories that aren’t working (which is, of course, all of them for the first few drafts). So another trick I try, to get myself back into it, is to tell myself, “You don’t have to revise it right now. Just open the file. Just read it through one time. Just… see what happens.” And whaddya know, I almost always end up revising it!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Well, you always have fantastic tricks up your sleeve when it comes to writing. I love this idea of yours, tricking the brain into just reading your drafts and getting into the revising mode through that.

      It’s going to be really helpful to me, I know that.

      Good Luck with the CampNaNoWriMo. What is the goal you have set up for yourself?

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Great, I hope it’s helpful to you!

        My Camp NaNo goal is to *submit* for publication (at paying magazines) at least 25,000 words worth of short stories. So I’m not giving myself any NaNo credit for revising the stories (which they also need), only credit for finishing them and sending them out the door. Or for a few cases, dusting off ones that were rejected that I just let lay fallow, fine-tuning them, and sending them back out.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I’m on track, but just barely. Sent out four stories (two of them twice already) for a total of just over 17K of my 25K goal. But now I’m down to a few stories that need a LOT of revision, and I’m running out of free evenings and weekends, eep!

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Great post! I’ve found that “Just Do It” and “Read and Write” seem to work best to get me motivated. In fact, I find that reading other’s blog posts help inspire me to get back to writing if I’ve been suffering with a bout of writer’s block.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Jeff! Knowing how you beat your block and get back to writing is certainly helpful to me 🙂

      I too like to read others blog posts. It makes me want to leave a comment that gets too long and gets me thinking and eventually writing 😀

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Sayanti, for your thoughts. Reading truly gives a jumpstart to writing.

      I think it is very inspiring that you are writing back to back posts for the AtoZ challenge. You have traveled so much and have so many wonderful things to share about the places you have been to. Kudos on the good work!

      Like

  3. I’m trying to get back into writing every day. The things that help me are reading writing books and feeding off the passion of fellow writers. Stephen King and Anne Lamott both have books that inspire me to write more.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. What a wonderful way to describe it…’feeding off the passion’ 🙂

      Yes, I have read Stephen King’s ‘On Writing’ and it is a very good guide. Anne Lamott’s ‘Bird by Bird’ is on my TBR. Reading other successful authors and their take on writing is very inspiring. I also like to read Rebecca Solnit.

      Good luck with your daily writing practice.

      Like

      1. Both those books inspired me so much. Definitely read Bird by Bird. When I went through a patch wondering if I should even write, that book showed me why to write.
        Thanks so much!

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Great advice – particularly since I am just getting back to writing after a three month hiatus (life blasted me with a car crash followed by quite a serious illness). Reading is a must for me but sometimes I can do no more than write a potential title but it gets me started again.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I hope you have healed and come back to your strength. Life really can be tough; sometimes when things are going good, along comes something that immobilises us physically and psychologically.

      It can be difficult to get back to your flow, in life and in writing. But, small steps are good, as you do with blog titles.

      Reading again provides a lot of ideas, if nothing profound, then at least our opinions on what we are reading 🙂

      Thank you for your thoughts and for stopping by.

      Like

  5. I have found myself falling into that mode where writing has to wait for me to attend to my deadlines. Sitting down until something gets written down works for me. And sometimes I write the little I can, leave and come back to it later. Then I update before posting. Great tips you have here.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for your tips.

      Yes, discipline is important. And sometimes, looking at the bigger picture helps in putting down a few words whenever we can till we can come back and edit.

      Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s