After health issues sidelined me for a couple of weeks, it's been a challenge to sit down and write again. I've faced that kind of momentum loss before, after a vacation or other interruption, but this situation was different.
It seemed like my entire life was on hold while I marked time by doses of medication. As soon as I started to feel better, my to-do list filled up with lofty goals like "eat food that has a flavor" and "get out of the house."
Here are the steps I'm taking to work my way back to my writing habit:
1 - Read Helpful Things
I like a wide variety of books, but until I get on track, I've narrowed my reading focus. I'm largely sticking with my favorite authors, especially those that inspired me to try writing my own stories in the first place. I've also been dipping into my stash of writing books to get me in the right frame of mind, and I plan to make time for the two highly recommended fantasy novels that have been gathering dust in my to-read pile.
2 - Go Back Through Your Work
I got motivated by reading the scenes from my draft that I'm happiest with, then I flipped through my notebooks to keep the background details fresh. Reminding myself of all the effort I've put in so far encouraged me to get moving, and it reminded me of all those other breaks or issues that I've written my way out of. It was also nice to realize that I'm still excited about my story.
3 - Do What You Can
The writing itch returned last week, but it was hard to concentrate. I settled for scribbling in my journal at first, then started on a few short passages of my book. While putting together the rough draft, I made a lot of notes like [describe this room] every time I got too caught up to distract myself by mentioning the furniture. Writing short, descriptive snippets to fill in those blanks was a perfect way to feel productive even when I couldn't sit at the computer for long.
4 - Think Character, Not Plot
My story still needs some work. The thought of jumping back in to the thick of it was intimidating, though. Was I really up for that yet? Rather than pushing myself into the fray, I took a step back to reconnect with my characters. Do their motivations make sense? Are they facing down their issues? Am I revealing the most important parts of their backgrounds or personalities? Tapping into my enthusiasm for my characters helped rebuild my confidence, and it left me with a better understanding of my heroine.
5 - Set the Stage
I don't usually put a lot of emphasis on writing under certain conditions, but this time I figured that every little bit helps. When I finally felt ready to go for it, I grabbed a snack, a drink, and my most commonly-used reference books. I listened to a couple of songs to set the mood, then I turned off the ringer on my phone. Yeah, I spent a lot of time that first day staring at the screen, but after following the same setup on day two, things went easier.
I still haven't hit one of those great writing days that make me surprised and happy with my progress, but I'm baby-stepping back to a solid writing routine. It seems like enough for now.