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Writing Life: When you don’t write

What’s a writing life with no writing?

What do you do when your writing life doesn’t include much writing? It’s a guarantee that at some point you’ll hit a wall with your story, or you’ll get busy at work, or you’ll lose the initial spark that inspired you, or you’ll pick up a new hobby and writing will get pushed to the side. What’s a writer to do in a time when their own writing is dormant?

You’re not a writer if you don’t write. Period. You can plan, you can see the world through creative eyes, but if you’re not putting words to paper, you’re not a writer. This may seem harsh, but I’m applying it to myself as much as any. Three months of not even picking up a pen do not a writer make.

I’ll be looking at this more in following weeks, but here’s a 20,000 foot view of “How to keep your book/story/writing from dying.”

1. Make a plan

For me, I have no idea where I’m going when I sit down to write. Because everything is in the unknown, I’m not motivated to sit down at all, so I don’t do any writing. While some people can legitimately write with no plan at all (freewriting), you may find it helpful to have a roadmap, at least so that when you sit down you have a rough idea of what you need to write.

My own task: the outline for my book is half-done, and it needs to be finished. Powering through the rough spots in the plot and working out a plan from page 1 to ‘The End’ will help me to reignite my inspiration on the story and give me an idea of where I hope to take these characters.

2. Do your Writing

We’ve talked about discipline before (link), but it’s so important to building and maintaining a writing habit. If you’re not writing consistently, you will lose the thread of your characters, you will lose the voice of what you are trying to write, and you will lose your plot ideas. Don’t let those ideas seep out of your head — write them down while you still have them!

My own task: Get back into daily writing. Maybe daily doesn’t work for you (or my own) schedule anymore — maybe it’s three times a week. Whatever you work out, stick to it like glue. Build the habit until it feels natural.

3. Deadline

Committing to finishing a book is a huge thing for someone like myself. I’m on my third, but only one of those reached ‘The End,’ and none of them are “finished” in my eyes. If you commit to finishing the story — and on a specific date, to boot, you will have a specific goal to work towards. You’ll be less inclined to put off your writing just because you don’t feel like it — there’s a deadline to meet now!

My own task: Finish my first draft by December 31. That’s five months away, and plenty of time to finish the 70% left on the first draft. Having a hard date should help me to pound away at this draft and finish the story!

What are your tips for resurrecting your own writing life?