Monday, January 31, 2011

Back in the Saddle

by Clare Langley-Hawthorne

The summer holidays are drawing to a close and with my boys starting school on Wednesday I am emerging from writing hibernation to face the prospect of rewriting my WIP (and facing a blank computer screen!).

You may remember my blog post last year about feeling I was in a deep, dark, plot pit - well, at least I managed to dig myself out of that over the holidays. I didn't get any real writing done but I did get a chance to brainstorm plot options and clear the way for what (I hope) is the answer to my overly complicated plot. The thing is I now have two days to start revving the engines to get back down to writing full time and I feel like a rusty old motor in the scrapyard.
Over the last five years I have been pretty consistent in terms of writing output - but I am nervous after such a long hiatus that I won't know where to start or what to do. Needless to say, my inner critic and naysayer is in high gear as you can imagine...

I am reassuring myself that I am ready - I have a revised synopsis in place and will start with a revised plot outline. I convince myself that all the key ingredients are there - my characters are well rounded and full of necessary angst, the mythology is fully-realized, the historical research what could go wrong?! I think my main worry is that I may have lost any talent I may have had along with the drive needed to propel myself to the finish.
So any recommendations or advice on getting back into the swing of things? How do you recover after a writing hiatus? How do you make sure you don't stall?:)

All and any suggestions would be most welcome - I'll report back in a few weeks as to my progress!


  1. My vote is that for the first few weeks (months?) you just write, don't think. And fix it later. That's my approach. Good luck!

  2. Here's something but it's only useful once you're back into writing mode:

    I heard a memory trick for writing. Stop in the middle of a sentence at the end of your writing session. Your brain will hold on to your mental state and allow you to jump right back in the next day without wasting time warming up.

    One of the greats did this though I forget which.

  3. Tammy -I like that approach but will have to silence that pesky inner editor of mine. Daniel, that's a cool idea and I will definitely try it - though the way my brain is at the moment I would probably forget what I was going to write for the rest of the sentence!

  4. Hey Clare- You're ready that's 85% of the battle. Once you start, you'll be fine. It's just the starting. It's a comfortable well worn place for you, once you get going, you'll be going. I'm trying to go through the discovery phase and background prep in 3 wks (I've got 2 left) so, I'm in panic mode. I don't have to have everything 100% ready, but I need to be where you are and I'd be ready and excited.

    Trust yourself- riding a bike is blase, hop on your motorcycle and go!

  5. It's a common feeling, Clare. I've also had a hiatus result in those thoughts you describe; rusty, have I lost it? etc. But they are phony because once you begin again it comes back. It may take a little time, but all will be well.

    10 minutes a day of "morning pages" (Julia Cameron's term) or ten minute, hand-doesn't-stop-moving pages (Natalie Goldberg's description of the same thing) is a way of helping break through, like a snowplow.

  6. I haven't tried it, but I like Jim's suggestion of the ten-minute pages technique. I plan to give that a try.

  7. I eat a bowl of Cap'n Crunch. The loud crunchiness often jars my thoughts into creativity. If it doesn't work,(as in I let it get soggy), then I just hop up and take a quick run in the snow wearing nothing but my speedos and trusty leather sandals.

    The ensuing chase from the neighbors dogs and local constabulary always gets my creative juices flowing.

    the local cells are amazingly comfortable, and an invigorating environment...and I get to do occasional hand to hand combat research with the ever so gracious assistance of any sex offenders with whom I share the cell. They make the strangest assumptions about a 240lb guys in tiny little speedos.

  8. Well the image of Basil in his speedos has certainly given me the necessary jolt:)! At least it's summer here so I don't have to entertain the thought of running round in sub zero temperatures myself! Thanks Jim and Kathryn, I like having a ten minute warm up before I get started each day. It feels like it's been so long I will need it! Chaco, I do hope I am 85% of the way there!

  9. I'm thinking you'll write your best work ever this time around! You had time to percolate the good stuff.

    Go get 'em!

  10. Just work work your ass off and THINK as hard as you can while you write. Ha that is what I do anyways!

  11. Once you get started, you'll probably find you can't stop. All those characters have been running around in your head all this time, clamoring to get out. :-)

  12. Holy Cow Sister! I just saw on the news a humongo-scary cyclone bearing down on Northeast're in the south right? Cuz that thing doesn't look fun...even a little.