I’m stuck. I just opened my project & realized I haven’t written since the 17th. I haven’t even been thinking about it, my brain is just really off the story. I’m stuck at work with nothing to do, & instead of writing I’m sending you this ask. I just... don’t want to but I know I should just force myself. Should I reread everything of what I wrote to try to get excited again? Should I just keep on taking this break until my brain thinks about it? These days it feels like I’ve forgot I’m writing.
I am in a similar bind with an e-course I’m writing on... ironically writer’s block. Oh the universe laughs....
So. Let’s look at your problem and maybe I can solve mine.
First off, understand that this is the holiday season and things are weirder this holiday season than normal, due to covid and *waves hands* everything. This is NOT a good time to get stuff done, especially, frankly, in writing/publishing. Publishing closes down at this time of year. EVERYONE is...frantic with it all. End of the year, holidays, travel plans (please don’t travel it’s quarantine time,) family, holiday blues, work expectations etc.
Now this doesn’t mean you can’t write, but I think it’s beneficial to not give yourself a hard time about not doing your writing and remember that there are extra obstacles to getting focused. Your brain is BUSY. With stuff or work or anxiety or holiday blues or whatever.
Okay. So what that means is you have let go of the guilt and the “shoulds” of it. The guilt and shame and failure and anxiety of not writing when you think you SHOULD be writing can be debilitating. You feel guilty so you avoid writing then you feel ashamed for avoiding it then you feel like a failure for not being able to write because what writer can’t write when they have the opportunity? then you fill up with anxiety because you suck and fail and blah blah blah. Writer anxiety/block spiral.
It’s quite likely that your brain is off the story because your brain is busy with all the other stuff. This is not something to be ashamed of, it’s just life. Life has cycles of productivity and rest. It just does. That’s how things work. You work. You take breaks. You are active. You are resting. You write. Then you don’t write. Let yourself have your cycle.
Okay. That said, if you want to take a break and just not worry about it. Go ahead and do that. Maybe set a plan to start writing again at a time when you have the freedom to focus. Make a date with yourself and your project. Why not? Take that dead day at work and plan out what you want to do next and where and when. Actually, considering that, if you actually take your lull at work and PLAN your writing for next time, you might very well find yourself back in the project.
One of the things I do when I want to write but am not in that place to write is go to the pinterest board I made for my project (I like keeping those, they help me visualize and plan the story.) If I spend some time perusing the boards, I remember the story. I remember the feelings. The things that get me excited. The characters. Or, I search pinterest for things essential to the story and pin them. That’s a way to get your brain back in the story without actually producing new words. It helps with the lack of focus while not being demanding of a unfocused mind. I think it’s another part of the brain being used, not the verbal one or the logical one, but visual and subconscious. This image “feels” like the story. That image sets up a resonance with a theme.
If pinterest is not your thing, you could try organizing your thoughts instead of writing them. Draw a map of your setting. Or a floor plan. Look for costumes that would fit. Make a menu. Or a playlist. Create a family tree. Outline a little backstory. Or outline the story you’ve written so far if you’re a pantser rather than a plotter. Do a tarot spread for your characters or story or figure out their Hogwarts House or astrology sign. Or their favorite food or childhood pet. The idea here is to think AROUND your story rather than addressing your story directly. If one part of your brain doesn’t want to work on it right now, use another part that you find inspiring. I’m a visual person that’s why pinterest works for me. But music might do it for you. Or (if you’re not stuck at work) maybe you like to MOVE to get your brain going and going for a run does it.
Another thing I like is to take a narrative break. For me, instead of trying to write write write, I need my brain to start thinking of stories again. Not writing the next word. So I step back, pick up a nice, easy, not too demanding book, and just read. It’s a break for me but it keeps my brain in narrative mode. Often, in the middle of my reading break (20 minutes is a good time) my brain starts connecting back to MY story and I jump up because I’ve figured out how to write again. Sometimes I need the break more and I keep reading for another 20minutes or more. It’s not uncommon that I just keep reading for an hour, but that’s okay too.
Now, your suggestion of reading the project over to get back into the story which you’ve forgotten and have gotten out of is an EXCELLENT way to get back in. I do that on a regular basis, especially when I’m binge writing 3k word a day or so. I sit down at the computer and go over what I wrote the day before, so that no matter what I’ve been doing since (working or scrolling or errands or reading or whatever,) I’ll remember where I was and what state of mind I was in.
It also gives me a chance to edit what I did the day before, tighten it a little, emphasize anything I want to put in there and THEN I just keep going onto the next scene/passage/chapter when I get to the end of what I already wrote.
So, my advice to you is to... figure out what works for you. If you need the break, keep taking the break, no guilt. If you want to get back to writing, do the read through and then get back to writing. If you want something in the middle where your lack of focus and distance from the story might be given a little respect--but not coddled, try NOT writing but still doing something story related like I suggested above, and you may find yourself writing again, or maybe just doing something fun that helps you get back into the story for when you ARE ready to write again.
Wonderer, wanderer, warrior. Been around for a while. Got some stuff going on. Should probably get back to blogging. I mean....I didn't go away, I was just talking about science fiction for a while.