Reigniting the Writing Flame

Oh, how the time flies when you’re stuck with family.  You blink and suddenly realize you’ve done nothing for two weeks but eat, argue, and return Christmas presents.  Not to mention, all that writing flow and inspiration you had so carefully honed, and maintained has now flown off with Santa Claus.

That’s why today’s post is about getting back on track when life has interfered.  It about what do with all those pages that had been writing themselves but are now followed by terrifying blankness.

What to do?  What to do?  If you’re like me, there’s a moment of panic followed by forceful procrastination.  I’ve read two books, watched half of season 1 of Mary Tyler Moore (thanks, sis, for the fab X-mas gift), and filled my Kung-fu fix for the next three months.  All in an attempt not to work.  All in the last four days.

Let’s take a deep breath and do this together.  We can get back into our Writing Flow, and here’s how:

  1. First of all, remember that we write because we love to write.  It’s not a task.  It’s not a household chore that you have to finish so you can have fun. It is the fun.
    • So, let’s change that mindset!  Don’t fear the keyboard, but embrace it!  This is your dessert; this is where the magic and daydreams happen.
    • If you’re havin’ trouble getting the former creative juices to flow, then write about something else.  Write about anything that takes your fancy (like maybe a blog about writing?).
  2. What made you even want to write in the first place?  Think back to what inspired you before you started the project.  Was it some scene that you’ve had playing in your mind?  A dream sequence (à la Stephanie Meyer) or a just a rockin’ concept?  Well, play it all out in your head again!
    • Re-daydream, re-plan, re-create.  If this inspired you to begin with, then let it inspire you again.
    • Don’t get so caught up in the details and the deadlines that you forget why this story had you pumped.
    • Re-ignite the fire.
  3. All that white space is not scary.  Whether you’re on page 5, you’re reached page 300, or you haven’t even typed the first words, all that nothing is daunting!  Except, it’s not!  That white space is your potential.
    • Think of is as fresh snow.  How satisfying is it to make the first footprint?  To hear the soft crunch as your foot falls through all that powdery potential.
    • And, just like the snow, if you don’t like what you’ve written–if that first sentence just comes out all wrong–you can change it later.  You can brush the snow back over your crappy snow-angel and begin again.
  4. Read about writing.  Pick up that book you’ve been meaning to read, or scan an article online.
    • Let these other writers remind you why you love to write.  Let their tips and lessons inspire you to try your own hand.
    • Try out Alicia Rasley’s great articles on the craft, or check out the slew of resources available from Writer’s Digest.
  5. Talk about writing.  Have coffee or an online chat with someone who’s also experienced the ups and downs of a writing life.
    • Sometimes just having someone to vent to, someone who relates, or someone who has their own approaches to the same problems can help you get over that bump in the road.
    • If you don’t know any other writers yet, then join a critique group or writer’s group.  RWA, SCBWI, or MWA are all great societies.  They’re here to help you, the writer.
    • Workshops are also great ways to meet fellow writers.  Live abroad or too shy?  Try Mediabistro or Writer’s Digest.  Not only will you meet others like you, but you’ll be given deadlines!
  6. Write by hand.  Yep, you heard me.  Step away from the keyboard, take that pen to paper, and see what words come out.
    • Margaret Atwood writes her novels both by hand and via keyboard.  If it works for her, why not you?
    • When you write in pen, you make a different sort of commitment to each word.  You spend a half-second more contemplating each word, plus a full second more writing.  For me, this opens up a whole new branch of creativity.
    • Remember, at some point, you’ll also have to type whatever you write.  That means that even if you write crap, it can soon be fixed.
  7. Above all, don’t lose patience with yourself.  Everyone hits walls, and it is not a poor reflection on you.  You’re not less of a person because you can’t get the spark back.
    • If you’re like me, you beat yourself up over every missed hour of writing or self-imposed deadline that whizzes by.  But, if anything, guilt just staunches the flow even more.
    • Your writing will be better when you write because you want to write, and I can guarantee that your readers will thank you for your inspired storytelling.

Well, I hope that helps you all.  I’m feeling a thousand times more motivated after writing this post.  So, away we go!