Reviews & Writing

Monday, October 18, 2010

Getting Back Into The Game

We all have our lives. Unless you are a full time professional writer, things will come up now and then that will prevent you from writing for days, weeks, sometimes even months. And even full time authors will face delays sometimes (ex: vacation, sick days, etc).

When you take a long break, you may find that once you try to restart your writing, you don't  restart at the same level you left off with. Today, I will teach you how to come back most effectively.

Conceptually speaking, writing is something between working out and math.

 When you don't work out for long, you get weaker and simply can't handle the load you could before. And what you must do is go back to where you were before, and slowly work your way upwards. In writing, it's not that extreme, but the principals remain. In the gym, you would either lift less weight and/or do less reps. Same thing in writing. If you were in the middle of a complicated novel that you worked on 3 hours/day and then you took a 3 week break, don't go straight back to writing it. Spend 1 hour writing a poem or a short story, and then call it a day. The following day, spend 2 hours, either on short stories or on outlines, or on anything else that you believe will warm you up. After 2-4 days you will feel a lot more confident; your writing will get sharper, and you'll find that working on that book 3 hours/day is no longer an issue!

That is of course, if you also follow concept number two.

Math (or any science really, I just find math the most straightforward example) covers the theoretical component of writing, whereas gym covers the practical aspect. If you don't do math for days, weeks, or even years, you will not lose anything you've already achieved. What you will lose is: speed and efficiency in the short term and ability to perform complex operations in the long term. And how do you deal with that in math? You review your notes.

It's exactly the same in writing. After a leave of absence you'll see that your words per hour have decreased, and that you handle things (ex: dialogue, descriptions...) in an unruly/amateur way. A longer leave will usually make you very unsatisfied with your writing. And how do you solve this? Review your notes.

A simple readover of your outline will go a long way. Think creatively on what is best for you and review! You in the middle of a novel? Re-read the last 2,000 words and all that stuff will become fresh in your head. Trying out a short story? Read some other ones you wrote! Can't get one specific part down? Identify what you're having trouble with (ex: showing/telling problems), and maybe go online and read up on some tips. These little things will solve problems that seem overwhelming and will make your life a lot easier.

So these are the two main concepts you need to know to effectively get back at writing. The math concept is slightly more important, since writing is more theoretical than practical. Also, the gym concept will solve itself anyway, since you'll work as much as you can and then be forced to stop. But if you just push yourself without warmup, it will be more difficult to write and you will waste time. Always warm up after a leave and don't push it. Anything that you force yourself to write will not be at it's best.

Well, I think that's about it for today. Got to go back to doing nothing. The best passtime of them all.

Have fun writing,

Will Rock


  1. This is a really great article. Reminds me that I really should get back to my writing and it's really gonna help me :) but I hate when I write something after it's been awhile and it's complete crap. it's the worst feeling cause I just really wanna get my ideas out and just write them out well!!!

  2. Found this post from a link on Twitter, and it couldn't have come at a better time. I finished my novel revisions, sent it to my agent, took a few weeks off, and am finding it very hard to sit down to work on something new. Your ideas help explain why I feel like I'm groping around in the dark. I really like the idea of a warm up. So, with confidence, I will start writing in earnest... tomorrow... I promise!


  3. If you have an uncontainable urge to get you awesome ideas out, I suggest some outlining. It will satisfy you to an extent, and will serve as a great warm up.

  4. This is a great post, and is perfect for me. I have been pretty sick the last couple weeks and fallen off my writing wagon, that was previously chugging along at a great pace.

    These are great ideas to get back into the swing of things :)

  5. I have a confession to make. I haven't been writing for a while (GASP!), and this post might be just what I need to get back into it.

    Great article Will.

  6. Nice job on the article. Useful topic and good analogies.

  7. Hi .. Nice article. Enjoyed it. Loved the last line the most LOL!!! 'gotta go back to do nothing'.. hahahaha. You said it.

  8. Love it! Love the school and working out analogies - is that why our backs are sore from writing? :)