Six long weeks ago, I underwent major surgery. Just before, I was certain it would take me a couple of weeks to recover. Then I’d get back to work. Ha! It’s taken me every day of the four to six-week recovery time the surgeon advised. So how do I get back to my writing life?
Writing Tip for Today: Writing is a little like acting—you step away for ten minutes and the fans you so carefully cultivated have vanished. Here are my thoughts on reclaiming your writing life:
More than anything else, a writer who’s had to put work on hold can begin to ease back into it by showing up and getting that BIC (Buns in Chair). Thinking about writing can solve plot problems or dream up new ideas, but until I sit at that keyboard and write, they’re only ideas. After being away for six weeks, I can see that my daily discipline to write needs a little refreshing. Since I’m not on deadline, I must make my own reasons to show up. My main reason? If you wanna be a writer, you’d better be writing.
A second way I’m trying to get my writing groove back is to produce pages for feedback. If I only sit and pound out thousands of words without an objective editorial eye to guide me (even if it’s my own eye), I’m liable to be getting off track. I find that good feedback stretches me as a writer and challenges me to learn new things. If you are part of a critique group, you’re lucky. If you’re not, why not? Online groups abound for those who can’t find a good face-to-face group. And if nothing else works out, hire a writing coach or mentor, take a class or attend a good conference to keep you on your toes.
I’ll admit I’m a natural goal setter. But if you aren’t, try setting some goals anyway. You’ll submit at least one piece per month. You’ll finish your first (or second or third) draft by summer. You’ll enter that contest. No matter how big or small the goal, I think it’s a good idea to be accountable to someone or something besides yourself. Just as it’s easier to stay honest if you tell others you’re on a diet, setting a writing goal (and telling someone) forces you to be accountable. Reclaiming your readership may take a lot more than these tips, but they’re a start. I’m going to claw my way back to my writing life no matter what it takes. If you ever must step away for a time, I hope you’ll be willing to get back to your writing life too.