Taking a long break from anything, writing included, can make it difficult to know how or where to start again. Two of the biggest hurdles to overcome are allowing yourself to let go of any guilt you have from not writing and putting to rest the infinite “I’ll do it tomorrow” mentality. Of course that isn’t to say that breaks are often necessary. They allow you to come back to your writing rejuvenated, more motivated, and re-inspired. However, when a break turns into weeks and months without writing, the daunting task of how and where to start again is often suffocating.
So what can you do to get back into your writing routine?
First and foremost, forgive yourself. The feeling of guilt can consume you so much that you become paralyzed at being able to get words on to the page. You must let go of this guilt and forgive yourself to move forward and get back to writing.
Set a time and stick to it. Find a time that you know works well for you or write in the early morning before distractions interfere or you talk yourself out of it (again). In the beginning you may have to bribe yourself with rewards to sit down and write and this is perfectly normal. Use small, daily, rewards and larger, weekly, rewards to keep you returning to your writing every day and striving toward a manageable goal.
Start slow and start small. Just as you wouldn’t go and run a marathon after not running for months, you shouldn’t sit and write for hours on end when you first begin to write again. Burnout can come fast in these precious early stages. Set a goal of fifteen uninterrupted minutes. Increase the time you write by small increments each day or week.
And start somewhere easy. Begin at a place you know will get words flowing easily on to the page. This will keep your confidence level high. In addition, tackling an easy task will help you get back into rhythm.
Don’t worry about the outcome. You may find yourself a bit “rusty” and your prose not very polished. Don’t worry. Focus on the quantity not quality of the words. Confidence comes first from finding your rhythm then from proving to yourself that you can stick to your writing goals. If you worry about your prose you risk both of those being realized. Editing is for making sense of everything you just wrote.
Stop waiting and start writing! In all reality, the only way to get back to writing is to get writing! Stop saying tomorrow and start NOW. “Do something today that your future self will thank you for.” -Unknown
What other strategies do you suggest for getting back into writing after too long a break?