How to Find Motivation After Taking a Break from Writing
Clearly, I have not been writing on my blog. I also have not worked on my second novel since last July. The last time I edited my first novel was in April where I editing a single chapter—the time before that was sometime in the fall. Now, I have been writing scholarship, school, and college essays but those hardly count; every teenager write those. So can I even call myself a writer anymore?
Maybe I should change my blog title: “Procrastinate for the King” might be more honest.
But the truth is that I am still a writer. How much I write or blog does not actually define who I am. I know that God has called me to be a writer, and I started on this path when I wrote my first chapter book as a nine-year-old. I know I am a writer because writing is like sleeping for me. When I write, I am at peace and everything feels natural and good, and when I do not write, I grow tired and weary. While I have take a very long break, I am still a writer, but I am a very lousy one when if I do not write.
I had some great excuses for not writing at the beginning of this year. I had a heavy school and swimming load. Then I had finals. Then I had relatives in town for my high school graduation. So I told myself that I would write when life settled down. And life did settle now. My parents made a quit swimming, and school ended. For two weeks, I had nothing: no swimming, no school, few chores, and no events. I had many hours to myself every day, and I wasted most of them. Not once did I sit down and start writing.
Just like falling back asleep, starting to write again is difficult. I love writing—more than that, I know that I need to write for my own sanity and my calling. So why didn’t I type a few words? I remembered my characters; I never stopped dreaming about their adventures or collecting quotes for their personalities. I remembered my plot and story world; I often read over my old notes. However, I had forgotten how to focus. I had forgotten how to write.
From the posts I have read on your blogs, you guys are doing great and enjoying writing. But if, like me, you have forgotten how to write, here is a list to help you start to write again.
Remember how to Focus
This is the single most important aspect of writing, and I had lost it. Force yourself to focus on writing and only writing. No music. No internet. No other tabs or programs open on your computer. It is very difficult in a world with constant noise, stimulation, and internet—oh, internet, my personal bane.
For me, this meant that I needed to put myself in a place where I literally had nothing else to do and could not access the internet/was too shy to ask for wifi passwords. Simply turning off the internet on my computer was not enough. But even with that, I found that I needed some mental strength to force myself to begin writing. So be prepared: remembering how to focus is a battle.
Do not let other things take the place of Writing
Literary research (aka pleasure reading) is not writing. Creating Pinterest boards for your characters is not writing. Talking with your friends about writing is not writing. For those of you who are plotters like me: plotting is not writing. These things are fun and often necessary, but don’t let them intrude on your writing time. Set a timer for your writing period first, and then once you have written for the allotted amount of time, you may do other things.
As I mentioned before, the internet is my bane, and often Pinterest takes the place of my writing time. Character inspiration boards are fun but not writing. So I will not allow myself on Pinterest unless it is for specific writing research for the next week or so.
Find ways to Inspire Yourself and Remember how much you Love Writing
Maybe your problem is not that you are letting other writing related activities takes the place of writing. Maybe you have just lost inspiration. So read a good book with a fantastic plot, watch a good TV show with a complex theme, paint a picture of your characters, make a three dimensional map of your story world out of clay, create a list of the things that you love about your book, or send your story off a friend who will remind you how fantastic your story actually is.
I had actually forgotten how much I loved writing. What helped me remember was writing in my journal to God—to be honest, I was broken and did not have much choice, but God reminded me of my love for writing through that. I also have read very few books this past few months. Reading Jill Williamson’s new novel, King’s Folly, and watching a new TV show has reminded me why I write novels.
Ask a Friend to help you be Accountable
Sometimes what we need is a friend who will pester us until we start writing. Eventually, we will dread the questions at the end of the day enough that we actually start writing (or see our computer and phone as fearsome enemy to be avoided in the evening.) But really, accountability partners can be both the push we need and an encouragement to start writing.
I am going to poke a few of my other writing and blogging friends and see if they would be interested in becoming accountability partners with me. Perhaps, I can find a friend who can I swap blog posts with, and we can proof read them for each other. That way I would have a deadline to make for each post. I am also going to look around to find someone who will pester me about making my word count or editing quote on my novels.
Join a Writing Community
This has a similar effect to finding an accountability partner, and joining a writing community typically is just as or more encouraging. Often writing communities will get together to write (which truly forces you to write) and provide inspiring environments (often with coffee and wonderful speakers.) If you cannot find one in your local area to physically visit, then you might consider joining an online community. Blogging can be a wonderful outlet, but if you need something more focused on making a word count, I would recommend Nanowrimo (National Novel Writing Month) which is an online community during the months of November (the most popular month), February, April, and July.
I will be doing Camp Nanowrimo this July! I have done the July camp for the past two years and reached my goal of 50,000 words for the first time last year. This has always been very encouraging and motivating for me. I love how the cabins are set up with the word count goals and chat box and how my cabin mates participate in word wars and send each other random inspiration. If you are interested in joining my online cabin in July, I would love to write with you! My username is dryadwriter, and you can either message me there or comment below this post.
Make a Setting that Encourages you to Write
Some part of a good setting has to do with being able to focus, but there are other aspects to an encouraging writing environment. Food and drinks are always encouraging, but sometimes it is difficult to write if you hands are full. So grab a straw and grab a snack that does not require constant grabbing (like beef jerky or a hard candy.) Pillows and blankets are nice– so long as you are not at risk of falling asleep. Sometimes, I love writing outdoors when the weather is nice; other times, I like writing surrounded by books in a library. Sometimes it is useful to create a writing space in your house, but other times that is not possible. Find a place that is quite and encouraging to write.
Fortunately, I have a full time job as a nanny this summer, and the kids have a two hour nap while I am there. This is the perfect time for me to refocus. I bring a handful of Jolly Ranchers to reward myself and sit on a soft coach with a blanket and my computer. With no internet access and no other choice than to write, I have actually found that I can find inspiration, even on the tough days.
I won’t even pretend. This list is for me: ways that I can start writing again. However, if you have struggled getting back into writing after a break, I would love to hear about your tips and how you broke out of the black pit of procrastination and regained motivation.
I hope you have a great week and have plenty of inspiration and focus as you write!