Returning to Writing After an Extended Period by Wendy Chen

Photo credit: . pralad . on Flickr
It happens to all of us at some point – due to external factors, due to being dried up of inspiration, or due to a lack of motivation – an extended period occurs when we simply can’t write. To start writing consistently again after having spent all that time away can be difficult, and I certainly felt anxious at the feeling of being a beginner all over again. Here’s some advice for returning to writing after an extended period:

  • Remember writing is often difficult, no matter what. When I was returning to writing, I noticed how many instinctive skills had slipped away from me. Creating characters? Worldbuilding? Writing dialogue? I was checking blog posts and articles on writing every second word, frustrated at the sense that there were intuitive abilities I’d lost, and writing my first draft felt like pulling teeth with every word.

    When this occurs, it’s important to remember that writing is often difficult, regardless of your experience or how long you’ve been writing consistently. You’re not a failure if you don’t immediately enter an impassioned state regarding storytelling again. Take it slowly and be persistent.

  • Have a set routine. I don’t think you have to write every day to be a writer, because everyone’s process is different. But if you’re easing back into writing after a long period, I’d advise you to try and do so: it’ll get you back into the rhythm of writing consistently, and help you make progress every day. Set aside a certain time of the day, have a word count goal (no matter how small) and just keep swimming!

  • Find simple ways to keep yourself consistently motivated. For me, that’s using a spreadsheet to track my word count and seeing my progress on the chart every day (My Write Club also does this). Simple rewards for yourself can also be really motivating: buying something nice, using special stationery, watching a film, or FOOD.

  • Work on another creative pursuit you enjoy. For me, that’s piano – I play it simply for relaxation and hence feel a lot less pressure than I do when I’m writing. It’s important to remember the simple joy in art, and if you’ve spent a lot of time away from writing, another creative pursuit can help spark that passion for writing in you again.

Do you have any other tips for returning to writing after an extended period?

Wendy Chen is a writer and student from Australia, with a particular passion for speculative and historical fiction, review writing and advocacy. She posts about writing and books on Tumblr, and is a contributor at That Reminds Me.

Twitter-sized bite:
How do you get back to writing after an extended break? Wendy Chen shares some tips on @Ava_Jae's blog. (Click to tweet)

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