As much as I love to write books, sometimes life takes a front row seat. I'm first a wife and mother, which means I take the summers off from writing and publishing to spend time with my family. Wonderful as this sounds, it's rather difficult to get back into the swing of things once school starts up again.
And I'm certain this sort of thing (putting off writing for a while) happens to a lot of writers. Therefore, the goal of this post is to share with you three tactics I have used to regain my creativity after three months off.
1. Establish a routine writing schedule.
Setting up a writing schedule is a great way to bring the craft back into your life. The time will be different for every writer: daily, specific days in the week, an hour a day, five hours a week, etc. In order to stay connected to my work-in-progress, I need to write daily. Since I freelance and have the gift of working from home 2 hours Monday-Friday works just perfect. I made this schedule for myself the first week of August.
At the beginning, I often fell short, skipping a day here and there. I really struggled with sitting daily after having an entirely different routine throughout the summer. Patience is necessary here. As with any changes you are trying to make in your life, it takes time. Go easy and approach your new schedule with plenty of grace. It took me several weeks to get used to working on my manuscript daily but by now I look forward to this time spent being creative.
2. Start slow.
It was easy for me to feel overwhelmed when I thought about all the writing I hadn't done during the summer and how much I still had left to do. My WIP (Klondike Bounty, Klondike Mail-Order Brides #1) sat collecting dust in my Jutoh drive since late May. It was the next in line for fall publication, which meant that I needed to start putting in mad words ASAP. But because I'd been away from writing for so long my creative brain wouldn't function properly. Basically, it was unrealistic for me to expect going right back to producing 2k words per session like I had been in the spring. How was I supposed to do that when I kept getting stuck every other sentence?
So I went back to square one and familiarized myself with the manuscript. I read through the chapters I had written, my character sheets and notes. Then I started a brainstorming session to help my creative mind get geared up for finishing the chapter I was currently stuck on. Once the story took root in my head again the words came out more easily.
This is where it gets good: instead of forcing myself to complete a high word count (only to feel demoralized every time that I failed) I lessened the amount of words I produced per session to 800-1k. I wanted to see if I could do this first...and then gauge how long it took me to get past the 1k mark on a regular basis. The feeling of relief and ease with which I then approached my work was uplifting. Because I could succeed at writing 800 words per day, I felt more encouraged to sit daily and stick to my schedule. In just 3 weeks, I have started producing 1600 words per session, which is awesome, and if I can rev it up like this so can you!
3. Have a goal in mind.
Reaching that goal is honestly the funnest part for me. It's great looking back to see how much I've progressed. But before getting there I first needed to set a realistic goal with a series of smaller ones in between. The ultimate destination for Klondike Bounty is publication on online retailers in the fall (GO INDIES!). Before I had stopped working on the manuscript in the spring, I had completed about a 1/4th of the novel. So I still had a ways to go and also needed to add in time for having the manuscript edited, finalized, and formatted. This meant that I would likely need to be done writing by mid-September.
So this is my current (big) goal. The smaller ones along the way have been to post two chapters per week on Wattpad and complete several editing cycles on already written chapters. All of this plus working on my freelance projects, blogging, reading, and being available for my family. The work is going well and right now it appears as if I'll be able to accomplish my goal of finishing the book in time...although I will need to continue increasing my word count.
And this is where it all ties in together: in order to reach my goal, I have to increase my word count, and I can only do that by sticking to my schedule of writing daily. So you see? These three little tactics have helped my creative brain get fired up again and are also moving me towards a new release, which is the part I love most about all of this (books for my readers to enjoy).
What strategies have you employed to help you get writing again after a long break? How have they aided your creative productivity? As always, thank you for visiting my blog and happy writing!