“It used to be so juicy.” “I was on fire.” “3,000 words in one day.” Sure, that was before the holidays, the birthday, the vacation, the big test. Now the trail is cold, your grasp on your characters seems frail, and you are sure you need to start all over. Before you start up a new novel entirely, here are six things I’ve been doing since I’ve begun the return to regular life.
#1 Crowd your brain with how-to-write inspiration. Read before bed and in the morning before you get up. Read before you start to write. I found a new writing guide, David Farland, and have been working my way through his books; Million Dollar Outlines and Drawing on the Power of Resonance in Writing. Reading examples about how other authors have built their books gives me the courage to re-connect to my story.
#2 Don’t be hard on yourself. Take a little time to back up and immerse yourself rather than forcing yourself to trudge on without feeling it. Re-read your book from the beginning. Get a running start at that blank spot where the next scene needs to be created.
#3 Write a short blurb about your book. Even if you have written one before, this exercise helps to zero in on what you love about your story. Save the Cat by Blake Snyder has a great walk-through on writing a blurb. Go to Amazon or Goodreads, or Publisher’s Weekly and see how they describe a book you have never read. What draws you in? What turns you off?
#4 Write a scene out of order. I decided to jump forward to a place I know has to happen but isn’t the most important scene ever. It wasn’t too far ahead, but just enough to get me out of the place I was stuck in. Writing it helped me get closer to a character I hadn’t fleshed out much yet and prove to myself there was forward motion just ahead. After getting it down on paper, I was more willing to go back to the muddle because I knew where I was going to end up.
#5 Think about the reader. Who are they? What is their age? Spy on those Goodreads readers, those book bloggers. If you are writing for a wide age range, think about adding characters that share the ages with your readers. Think about the music they like, the books they have read, the movies they have seen. I’m always searching on the internet for people who might look like they are friends of my character. Spending a little time with these imaginary readers helps me make my characters more alive in my mind.
#6 Spruce up your writing space (or at least shove the piles over a bit) and yourself. On days I want to be really efficient, I put on a white blouse. With my doin’ shirt on I make sure to get to my writing first. If I do it before anything else, then there is still time for everything else.
It feels great to nurture your writing until it is alive in your mind rather than stuffed behind the grocery shopping list and the car’s oil change schedule. Just keep at it when you can, so when the opportunity comes, you are ready to pile up the words, maybe even up to 3,000 words a day.