How to Start Writing Again After A Long Break
Sometimes life has a way of throwing you a curveball when you least expect it. This can be especially tricky for a writer's mind. Trying to get in tune with your Muse (motivation to write) is difficult enough without an epic distraction causing you to lose momentum.
I know a lot of writers have moments in life when something happens to sidetrack your progress. When this happens it can really be difficult to get back in gear and find your focus again.
In 2016 I started my first real fantasy series. I was excited about the premise, the characters, and where it would lead. My first book in the series, Karma, came out and was met with a good reception from readers. I had every intention of continuing the series wit the release of the sequel the following year. However, things took a turn that halted everything.
At that time in my life I was going through hell. Without getting too personal, I'll just say that something happened that left me rocked to my foundation. I didn't know how to claw my way out of this hole of despair let alone was writing on my mind. Thankfully, through grit and determination, I found my footing again and little by little I started back towards my passion of novel writing.
Trying to dive back into writing the sequel I realized I lost all momentum. Rereading the first book didn't help get me back on track either. So, what I did was give myself time. Rather than forcing out the story I took my time with it and gave myself permission to fail. At first when I started writing it I hated the plot. In fact, it made me reconsider everything about the series. So I went back over all the plans I had in place for the entire series and realized I needed to start over. With Karma already out I only made tweaks to that story to line up what comes next. All the plans I had in place were scrapped for better ideas. I found inspiration from different sources to keep me going. For instance, because my novel series is ultimately about a superhero I revisited the TV series Smallville. Watching it gave me ideas for my own work that ultimately helped me carve a path into the sequel that began to develop in ways that excited me.
We know as authors that if the story excites us as we write it then the reader is sure to be excited as well.
Now, three years later from where I initially started, I'm happy to say I've finished the sequel to Karma and I'm on track to complete the remaining two books in the series to make it a quartet. I've even put together a mini-compendium with some background information on the world I'm creating and a couple of short stories as well. All of this is coming together for a relaunch of the series planned for the Fall of 2020! Of course, life could always shift again but being able to finish writing something for myself after all this time feels really good.
If you're an author struggling to get back into the groove of writing after being sidetracked I recommend the following:
Create a schedule
When I got series about finishing my novel I decided I would write first thing in the morning for at least an hour to ensure I put some time into it before I got distracted during the day.
There were a few scenes I ran into during my writing that kept tripping me up. Rather than agonize over them I skipped them and went on to write other scenes. Afterwards I went back and filled in the missing scenes. It helped me keep my momentum and alleviated frustration.
Know your characters
I did say that rereading Karma didn't help get me back into the flow however, revisiting my character sheets did. Knowing who your characters are inside and out will help you feel comfortable like talking to an old friend. The same goes with the world your building. Even if you never use half the stuff you come up with the more you build out a world in your mind, or in a separate notebook, the easier it will be to progress the story.
Write for the wastebasket
I heard this piece of advice a long time ago. It sounds harsh when it first hits the ear, I mean you're writing just to throw the work away? But when you break it down it actually means that the first draft doesn't have to be perfect. A lot of what you write in your first draft is going to be cut and moved to the wastebasket. This is true of any writer no matter where they are in their career. Nobody gets it right the first time. Knowing this takes the pressure off of making that first draft perfect.
My superhero/urban fantasy series Silke's Strikeforce will be out in Fall 2020 ...barring any unforseen circumstances! Make sure you subscribe to my newsletter to keep up-to-date with the release.