Getting back in the metaphorical saddle

So you’ve been putting of writing for a week, two, seven? Finally found the time to take it up again and found yourself staring at your last sentence for twenty minutes not knowing how to continue and decided to make yourself a snack instead? While I can’t say I blame you for any of those things, it isn’t ideal, is it? I am guilty of this exact thing (I’ve had no internet for a month, and thus, no access to my cloud where I keep my writing, and also no blog posts…) which is why I wanted to talk about that (again).frustrated

The writing process is, of course, very dynamic; ideas come and go (especially when applying Ernest Hemingway’s method of writing: write drunk, edit sober) and what might have been the obvious way to continue the narrative last week may have gotten completely lost to you now that you’re back in front of the computer/notepad/typewriter.

Don’t be discouraged, it doesn’t mean that you’re not a good writer, it doesn’t even mean you have a bad memory, it only means that your mind is active, I mean, you have been thinking about other things between the time you stopped writing and now…

Now, by the mere fact the novels do get written some of them over the span of several years (e.g. it took J.R.R. Tolkien several decades, the better part of the twentieth century, to write The Silmarillion, which was published after his death, so don’t stress out about your idle week), we know that it is possible to “get back into it,” I just want to go over some ways of making that process more efficient.

  • I am afraid to so that the best things you can do to quickly get back into your own story are preemptive measures, which means more foresight and planning, but I do guarantee that you will be more satisfied with yourself for having done so. The best such measure is to make notes. That’s right, as boring as it sounds, and being a writer you probably want more crazy artistic stuff (sorry), planning is the best solution. Make notes, either on paper or on tape (I have a recording app on my phone that I use for short notes) so that you can tell where you were going.
  • Another way of staying organized is making charts and diagrams of narrative progression. You don’t need any pre-made formula, just go with your gut in a way you will be able to understand. Flow charts, mind-maps, screenplay type illustrations can all work. You might need to experiment a bit at first to see what best suits you, but it will help as a reference point.
  • Have one person (I do this with my fiancee) with whom you constantly speak about your story, this way, they’d be able to help you find where you were a week ago, even if all it took was jogging your memory.
  • Now we get to those things you can do in the case you have not done any of those things mentioned above: reread. It’s more work, yes, but it will also serve as a form of editing. Now, this could be more time consuming that simply reading through your notes or listening to them, especially if you are writing a novel, and it might not bring you back to the same ideas you had last week, but it will help.
  • After rereading, take a moment to contemplate, don’t jump right into it. This will help your memory, and reveals more possibilities than continuing your writing as soon as you get tot the last line where your left off.
  • If you feel up to it, write down your thought after rereading and contemplating, this could also serve as the beginning of notes for next week, so you could be prepared next time.
  • Think of what you did besides your writing when you last wrote, this might help put you in the same mindset, which might help jog your memory. I often listen to music related to the subject matter of my writing when I write, so listening to the same songs helps me (there aren’t many songs about the first world war, but I make do).

Those are just some ideas, if you have any suggestions from your experience don’t be afraid to share them with everyone as they might help someone write their first bestseller!

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