So, as many of you may have guessed by the massive amount of time I didn’t post anything, I was away. Surprise! *grin* I was busy with family/work/study/various-stressy-things, so I had to leave my poor book-in-progress for a while, gathering dust. Which was doubly bad, because it was the fourth in a series. Yikes.
But, I’ve just published it today (Twice As Guilty, from the Grim Alliance series), so I did finally manage to finish it. And I completed some 28K+ in little over three weeks. It’s rather tricky getting back into the swing of writing every day when you’ve left it for a while, so I thought I’d share some of my tips and ideas to help you, if you ever find yourself procrastinating rather than going back into that story. It’s harder than just starting a book, but there’s less info on it. So, here we go.
1. Re-read what you have got so far.
Even if you have a writing plan written out (I did a post here on writing out a synopsis, which is what I use – conversely – to guide me at the start of a book, rather than the end), it’s still going to be difficult to pick up the same tone and ‘voice’ you were using previously, if you don’t look over what you already have. But the gem of this is that it should be almost fresh to you, if you’ve left it for a while. So you can quickly pick up parts that worked, parts that didn’t, and get a feel for what you were going for again. By the time you get to the end of what you’ve written, you should be in the same mindset as you were when you last stopped typing.
2. Take notes on what you have written so far.
Use re-reading as an opportunity for some light ahead-of-time editing. Cut out anything that bores you, anything that seems to drag on, and anything that doesn’t fit nicely. Coming back to a novel is difficult, but it’s also a great reason to really trim the fat of your novel and keep it on track. If you don’t use a writing plan of any sort, make sure to at least note down significant characters and events that will effect what you write later on, especially as the story isn’t fresh in your mind.
3. Get yourself in the mood.
If you listened to a particular soundtrack last time around, or if a certain movie or picture influenced the story, go listen to it/dig it out and watch it/look at it again. Remembering the feelings that inspired your story can help you keep it consistent, so there isn’t an obvious leap from last-time-of-writing to just-got-going-again. People continually change over weeks or months, and that includes you – and that will show up in your writing. Get yourself back into the place you were before, just temporarily, and engage with those emotions for the book’s continuity.
This is nearly always on one of my ‘lists’, but that’s because it encompasses so many parts of life! If you’re worrying over your novel too much, you’re going to get yourself in a rut again. Just breathe, relax, and write away. The important thing is to write, even if you don’t think it’s the standard you had before. You may surprise yourself, and find your writing has improved with a little break! You never know. Just don’t stop writing again unless you really have to. Which leads onto…
5. Start small.
When you get back into a novel, particularly if you were writing a good few thousand words a day, it can seem daunting to do the same after a break from it. So don’t do it! Not yet. Start small, and limit yourself to doing 100 words a day. Then increase it if you can to 150, then 200 – and each day, if you get to an exciting part, keep writing! Before you know it, you’ll be back to writing 5K a day with no problem. I have two friends who combine this with writing challenges; each setting a total number of words that day to be completed, and sharing the outcome with each other. This means you feel more obligated to reach that target when someone else is doing the same, and it’s also great encouragement.
In conclusion…those are my tips! The most important part of getting back into writing a novel is to keep at it. Everyone panics when they start thinking of deadlines, or “I should have had this out ages ago”, or whether they’ll finish it. Don’t think about any of that (I know, easier said than done, but it helps). Just focus on the story. The story is the consistent part that will remain in your hands, whatever you’re going to do with it afterwards. If you’re enjoying writing, then it will come back to you, and you’ll be finished with that novel in no time. So focus on the story, start small with your word limits, and keep at it! Even 50 words a day is more than 0. 🙂
And remember, many famous writers take years to complete novels! (George R.R. Martin, I’m scowling at you, haha).
What about you guys? Any tips you would add to the list that you’ve found helpful in getting back into your writing?