Friday, November 12, 2010

How do I get back into writer-shape?

The month of October was a bust for me - writing wise.  I normally write in the afternoons and weekends, but last month it wasn’t happening.  At first, it was because I was so busy with work, family, and a sick child that I couldn’t squeeze in a spare moment anywhere.  Then, I admit, it was pure, unadulterated laziness.  I had the time, but not the desire.  Any free time was spent watching television, reading, or zoning out on the internet.  I couldn’t make myself commune with my characters.  Quite simply, I was burned out.  Real life and fiction life had gotten the best of me and I needed a break.  So, I took it.
As you might guess, the hard part isn’t taking the break; it’s coming off the break.  Looking back, I’d liken it to getting off your workout routine.  If you’ve sat around on the couch for a month, the idea of jumping back into half an hour of aerobics and half an hour of weight training every day is enough to keep your bum forever glued to the sofa.  When I thought about writing 2,000 words in a day, the task was too daunting.  Where would I find the time?  How could I make that many words come in the short time I have to write?
Instead, I scrapped all goals except for one.  “Write a little something today,” I told myself.  Or as Elizabeth said, “Just tell the story.”  Like going for a stroll in my neighborhood, I decided I’d get out and stretch my writing legs.  I ended up writing about 400 words that day.  The next day my goal was the same and I finished at just over 700 words.  Within the week, I was back on course with a daily average of 800-1000 words.  The take away?
1)       Avoid taking a month off from writing OR working out. J  It’s too long to be away from the habit.  Half the battle of working on a WIP is getting your cheeks in the seat and putting your fingers to the keys.  You’re better off writing some schwill that you can edit later than staring at a blank page.
2)      If something happens and you do wind up staying away too long, ease back into it.  For a lot of us newbies, the idea of 10,000 words in a week is overwhelming.  Focus on telling the story and honing your craft, and then the words will come.  
Besides, once you find a publisher, those hard and fast goals will come soon enough!
What are your writing habits?  Do you have a specific time of day, days of the week, or writing spot?  How do you get back into the habit if you’ve taken an extended break?
(picture by Henry Clive)


Anonymous said...

Good point about not taking a long break. Makes it hard to get back into that rhythm. Seems that RL is always getting in the way of creative process.

Elizabeth Michels said...

After reading this I had the thought that I'm only 28 sets of 8 (hundred words) away from "And they lived happily ever after." And one and can do it get those fingers up and typing. Haha, just keep writing it, and thanks for the shout out. It's true though, word counts and deadlines aside, you have a story to tell, so just tell it. You can do it!

Ann Stewart said...

I found myself here last year. After signing my first contract I thought I was owed a month off. WRONG! Three months later I was still not writing the way I should have been.

This is where writing groups helps. I put my issue out there and within a few day I had several buddies there to cheer me back into writing.

You just have to find what works best for you and go for it!

Great post!


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