Friday, January 4, 2013

Getting back into the writing groove

For whatever reason – illness, a move or job change, family crises, or other circumstances beyond our control – most of us fall out of the writing habit at one time or another. And getting back into the groove can be tough. Confession:  Right now, I'm having a little trouble with it myself. Okay, a lot of trouble.

A few Decembers ago, I was chasing my tail, trying to steal writing time from the holiday-related hoopla on my calendar. But with all the cleaning and decorating, shopping and party planning, baking and visiting I wanted/needed to do, I felt really guilty every time I sat down to write. So I made what, at the time, felt like a drastic move:  After more than 10 years of keeping my nose firmly pressed to the grindstone, I gave myself permission to take December off from writing. Wow, was I a happier camper that holiday season (and those since). I could immerse myself in holiday prep/events without that constant nagging feeling that there was something else I should be doing (don't we drive ourselves crazy sometimes?!)

January-March have traditionally been my favorite writing months. And that month-long December break spring-boarded me into them, big time. I was raring to go. Outta my way! Lemme at the keyboard! I have a story to get to!

*sound of squealing brakes*

Not this year. Granted, it's only January 4, so I'm not panicking. But sadly, I'm just not feeling an urgency to get back to my writing. Maybe it's because the mg novel project I was enthused about a year ago got pushed to the back burner by a couple of work-for-hire projects. I've definitely lost momentum on that one. And it's a story I need to get back to, because I have a terrible if-I-don't-write-it-somebody-else-will feeling. But after a year of thinking about it only sporadically, I now have so many questions about my plans for the whole project that I'm doubting my ability to even pull off writing the thing. Ugh. That's not a great place to be.

So how am I going to regain that enthusiasm, retrain myself to get back into the writing habit? I've searched the internet for wisdom, and everything I've read boils down to these 3 steps:

1.  Stop fretting. Worrying about not writing is a time waster and certainly won't free you to create.

2.  Schedule writing time. I'm about as sharp as I'm going to get in the mornings. So right after my time on the treadmill, a quick shower, and breakfast, I'm heading to my office, where I will plop my rear into the chair and begin. I'll answer e-mails, check out the few blogs I follow (and maybe work on my own next post), then reread what I wrote the day before, which always jumps starts my mind.

3.  Give yourself permission to write (excuse me, Mother) crap. I don't know how, after writing for more than 16 years, I can STILL sometimes forget that writing is a process. Nobody sits down and bangs out The Perfect Story on the first try. Revision has always been my favorite part of writing. If I have to remind myself of that every day by taping a big note to my computer screen, I will.

My next post won't be until later in the month, but I'll let you know how I'm doing. Looking forward to a productive month!

*knocks wood*
*crosses fingers*
*rubs the troll*


Have you entered our current book giveaway? You won't want to miss this one. Read the entry details in Carmela's Wednesday's post.


Linda at teacherdance said...

You've given some good advice. December was the craziest month for me, so I need to put 'that' behind me & begin a good year, just as you are advising, Jill. Best wishes to you in reclaiming your ideas for the project. Once I get going, it does come back, but starting is another challenge, isn't it?

Jill said...

Thanks, Linda. Hope you have luck doing the same! I agree - the hardest part is beginning.

Pam said...

I'm so glad I'm not alone. Sometimes I feel so overwhelmed that I don't want to write. Then, I'll observe something in the classroom, or I'll overhear a conversation that sparks something. I jot my notes, write an outline, and...NOTHING! I have extremely rough drafts, bits of ideas on napkins, sticky notes, etc. Then at Thanksgiving my nephew eats a bug and he thinks it's the funniest thing, ever. We all laugh AND I'm off again. You never know when it will hit or how. That writing bug is never far away.

Jill said...

"You never know when it will hit or how."

Boy, isn't that the truth, Pam. And thank goodness one of those triggers eventually gets us moving forward again!


Margaret Simon said...

It is so comforting to know that we all experience this same problem. I thought with two weeks off from school I would get a lot of writing done. I did, and I didn't. Inspiration leads us along and sometimes on a different path than expected. Thus is the writer's life. Now the first day back is looming and I am desperate to write lesson plans. I'd much rather be reading or watching a good movie or writing. Anything but lesson plans.

jan godown annino said...

A lively pacesetting meditation & of huge help!

bildebok said...

Ah! You've given me inspiration. I'll start writing right after I return from the store. Now - what store sells trolls?? ;-)

- Cathy

Jill said...

Margaret, sometimes I get the most done when I have the least time.
Good advice, Jan!
Cathy, in a pinch, maybe a Barbie would work. ;)

Carmela Martino said...

Thanks for a great post, Jill.
Today's the first full week of the new year. Thinking of new beginnings in that way sometimes helps me. Hope this week is off to a good start for you.