It’s okay to take some time to take a step back and reflect on where you have come from and where you want to go. It’s okay to take a moment and let yourself feel like a person and not a “writer” when you don’t feel you have anything more to say. I can see that there is a beginning and a middle and an end to a book- or a beloved book series. But it’s time to get realistic. It’s time to write again and feel you’ve accomplished something in the process.
Before you run off and start exactly where you left off, be honest, you won’t be exactly where you left off. Unless you still have the baggage of emotions or the “negative vibe” against writing, you aren’t.
Take it slow.
We’ve all heard that before- it’s cliche. There is also a truth to the theme. You aren’t starting over (unless for some reason you burned your writing, shredded it to bits, or deleted all your blogs, and your hard drive) but you aren’t where you were before. You’re back, and you might feel better than what you were when you left, you have to travel a different route.
Take it slow. Yes, it’s easy to say “I wrote 1,000 words a day before I took a break,” the trouble with this sort of found memory is that you can quickly fall into the trap of comparing what you did to where you are now. You know you can do 1,000 words a day, but that left you disillusioned and burned out. It’s easier to commit to writing 1,000 words of good writing a week to begin.
Starting slow is a simple way of expanding your timeline in writing. What took you a day- and you were writing and exhausted or drained now might take a number of days. It’s okay to take it slow, when there is progress.
Create a goal.
This is a bit harder to do, because it might be that you’ve always been one with goals and lists and everything else in between but you haven’t given yourself the opportunity to sit back and see if it was a realistic goal. A very realistic goal. A sweet success day where all records you had as a writer were broken, a la Queen Elizabeth II (she has had milestone years and record breaking events), is not a new goal, but rather a record breaking day. It happened, but it might not happen again.
I’m not suggesting that you can’t do this again, but rather that a new record is something to strive for, but not right now. It’s a memorable moment, but if you wrote 5,000 words in one day because you didn’t have any other commitments that day doesn’t make sense in every day life, and the same is true for me. If my commitments outside of my writing life are there, then I’m not going to write as much as I would if I had a day with family, or clubs, or work pressures.
Create a goal really means that you create a goal that works. This means if you are coming back to writing set a goal which you can meet, a small daily goal. Revisit it every 30 days and see if you are meeting it or not. To be clear, you aren’t trying to hit the goal to make money, or to get more readers or whatever you think you want, it’s getting back to writing. If you feel that you can write 500 words a day without interruption, then set that as a goal.
Don’t feel bad if you don’t hit that goal, because at least you have set one and tried to make that mark.
It’s great you are taking it slow, it’s great if you are setting goals, and have a plan, but if you aren’t realistic about thing, no matter how positive you might be it’s going to be a hard ride. You want to live your life. You’ve had the breaks and you’ve realized you can still do what you love, but maybe a group blog isn’t for you. Or you begin hearing that your writing isn’t as bad as your felt it was. So you start to dream that maybe, just maybe….
Then it goes sideways.
Stop for a moment, we can all agree that dreams are what makes a person do great things. The challenge now is not to stop dreaming but to be aware of the the small factor called life. You can set a goal of writing a blog post, then writing a bit of the novel you’ve had in the bottom of your file folder, and then edit it, and get it out to agents and publishers- all in the next four months, but realistically that isn’t going to happen.
If you’ve taken an extended break, it’s getting the wheels back in motion, it’s getting the nerve to write, edit and finish that blog post you’ve been hoping to have out, yesterday, or hopefully today. It’s setting boundaries with people… again.
Let’s be realistic for a moment, it’s just a new beginning, you are not the writer you once were. You’ve had ups and downs, and growth and moments of despair. You’ve stopped, and started. You’ve hoped and given up. In short, you’ve become more than what you were. The reality is that all the goal setting and taking it slow in the world will not help you if you don’t have the willingness to be in tune with what your abilities are.
That being said, one can quote Dumbledore, and argue it’s our choices, but there is still an element of ability and time which factor in our writing and our lives. We choose to make time for writing, but if we choose not to learn from mistakes, we aren’t increasing our abilities.
Being realistic is a good thing. Negative thoughts will affect you and how you feel about your writing and your purpose as a writer. Living a life of writing? This sounds good, the key ingredient is keeping a good, realistic attitude towards writing. It’s about growth and the choices and attitude and ability we have for the art we love.