Back To School! Yay, I can write again! Yikes, what was I working on?

The last days of summer are are winding down. The beach toys are being put away, the late bedtimes being re-adjusted, the new school supplies being labelled…

And as a writer you’re counting down the days to when you can have your mornings back, to when you can make a cup of coffee and dig in to your work-in-progress (WIP) that has been collecting dust all summer, right? I know I am!

Summers are great, but when you have a family, it’s nearly impossible to find the time to write. But sometimes, those first days back in a quiet house, it can be hard to pick things up where you left off.

Really hard.

And that’s frustrating. My head is filled with playtimes and BBQs and sunsets and that new book I want to read, but not which character was doing what in my WIP. And certainly not why they were doing what… And that’s true after every break, even if I never stop thinking about writing, even if I’ve tried to work on the rare morning I was up early or I read a book on writing craft while at the beach.

But over the years, I’ve found a few things that help me get back into my writing rhythm.

1. Don’t worry.

Okay, this can be valid all year round – but here I’m trying to tell myself, ‘don’t worry, you will be able to write again even if if right now it doesn’t feel that way’.

Sometimes September feels daunting. Writing feels daunting. Getting back into the rhythm feels daunting. And that’s when I need to slow down and remind myself I was writing in June, so there’s no reason I can’t do it again on the other side of summer in September.

2. Don’t feel guilty.

It’s so easy to feel bad, especially when other writing friends are saying ‘oh, yeah, we had a great time at our beach house and I wrote almost 50k of a new MG novel!’. But it doesn’t help. Just as with last week’s post on jealousy by Joshua, you have to let it go. Remind yourself of all the fun times you had teaching your goddaughter to ride, or hanging out with friends, or travelling to the other side of the world. You had a full summer, it was great!

3. Read your WIP.

Sit down and breath deeply. Preferably in front of your computer.

With your WIP open.

And read.

Nothing else. No pen in hand, no critical hat on. Just reading. Get re-acquainted with your characters, your ideas, your story world.

4. Make a writing date.

Meet a writer-friend at a cafe. After a quick chat over coffee or tea or a smoothie, and you have both pulled out your laptops or notebooks or whatever you use to write/brainstorm, you’ll find the ideas begin to flow. And if they don’t, you still have to stay there looking at your blank page or your WIP because you can’t get up and do the laundry and your buddy is writing and you don’t want to bother them by talking. And eventually, ideas come back. Maybe it’s tweaking a scene here, or a whole new world to explore there, but somehow, after being forced to do nothing else, I will usually slow down enough that I can be creative again.

It doesn’t always have to be a session where I produce a lot. Sometimes even just the beginning of an idea is all it takes, and then ideas and creativity flow again and spill over into the next day.

And if you don’t have a writer buddy who can join you that week? Pick a cafe that isn’t too busy and go on your own. Sometimes just getting out of the house can help get you to focus again. Or maybe it’s not wanting to feel like an idiot sitting alone doing nothing. Either way, I’ve often found a morning at a cafe will kickstart me back up again.

And sometimes, I go back the next day. Because I write well there. Not because I like the special-flavored latte they happen to be serving.

Wishing you all a happy, creative, Back-to-School season!

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