Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Stepping Back into the Story

1/25/14: Thanks so much to everyone who has commented on this post--you guys have SO many great ideas! (Be sure to check out the comments if you are just now reading this post!)
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During the busy holiday season I had much less time to write, and that was OK. I looked forward to January as a time when things would slow down and I could return to a routine. But 2014 has proven unusually busy so far, and while I’ve accomplished a lot on shorter manuscripts, I’ve had a harder time getting back into my chapter book revision-in-progress.

This is mostly due to my compartmentalized mind; if I have an hour to work, I will focus on a PB manuscript, short story, or blog entry. But if I have several hours set aside, I will work on a chapter book or middle grade novel. When I sit down to write, it takes me awhile to submerge myself into the mood/characters/setting of a longer w.i.p., which is why I prefer to work on longer works during longer writing periods. But with more short segments of time and less long segments of time lately, my poor little chapter book—who desperately wants me to pay it some attention—is feeling a bit neglected. (I did make some progress today, though!)
So my goal this week is to find simple ways to step back into a longer story, even if I only have short periods of time to work. I am a firm believer that writing can’t simply happen when it is convenient; it needs to happen when I NEED it to happen! So for this post, I thought I’d list what has worked for me in the past and see if anyone else has anything to add. Thanks in advance for any suggestions or words of wisdom!
Ideas for Stepping Back into the Story:
  • Have a story board or idea board that showcases your current w.i.p.: main characters, setting details, helpful reminders—whatever helps you get back in touch with the world you’ve created. (Some writers also create a playlist for each w.i.p., but I need silence to write so I haven’t tried this one.)
  • At the beginning of each writing session, review the last page or so of your previous day's work. 
  • Work on longer projects on as many days per week that you can. (When I only work on longer manuscripts once a week, I spend too much time playing “catch up.”)
  • Another method that helps me to stay on course is to avoid reading novels "for fun" while I am working on a longer manuscript. I have done this before, but can’t do it right now—there are just too many great books out there! When I have done this in the past, though, it has helped me to really focus on my story. I’ve also read some great non-fiction during these times!
  • Realize that you don’t always need longer segments of time to work on longer manuscripts, especially after you’ve gathered some momentum and are settled into your project. (This is the one I really need to work on!)
These are just a few ideas that have worked for me. Please leave a comment if you have more! ☺

And now, some exciting news! Laurie Chance Smith, author of Snapshots: Focus on Nature in the Bible, is hosting a book giveaway! To enter, all you have to do is like her author page on Facebook, which you can do by clicking here. You can read my interview with Laurie here, and for a fabulous Young Reader Review featuring Snapshots, click here.

Good luck, and Happy Writing!  

20 comments:

  1. Oh, boy, you're doing better than I am ... I just have to dive in and make myself write utter poo to get going. I think shorts are a great way to get back into the routine.

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    1. These are both great suggestions, Vijaya! Getting something down on paper is better than nothing, and it starts the wheels turning. Thanks! = )

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  2. Great advice, Becky! I love using my storyboard for a lot of reasons - moving scenes around, plotting & planning - but one big reason is that every time I walk into my office, there it is - staring at me! When I am busy with other tasks during the day, I can look over at it and engage my characters in conversation, or try to work on rearranging something to enhance my story! Thanks for sharing. P.S. Good luck with the not reading part!

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    1. Thanks, Ann! Definitely a great point in favor of storyboards! = )

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  3. It's a mindset change that I struggle with, but 10 minutes can produce copy. Need to remind myself of this!

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    1. Yes--10 minutes CAN produce copy! I need to keep this in mind during my shorter work times. So much of writing is mental, I am finding! = )

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  4. I haven't done your #1 tip^, but I concur with all the rest. It feels mentally difficult to step into what has become "old writing" by the time I come back to it.
    From my experience, it can be done once you just sit down and start. it's the moments/hours/days before I get down to re-work that are daunting.

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    1. I've noticed this too, Mirka. Once I get going, a lot of the worry/story-fuzziness falls away. Sometimes I have to tell myself, "Just Do It!" = )

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  5. All great ideas, Becky! When I sit down to work on long projects, I sometimes write a poem first. It gets the juices flowing for me.

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    1. Great idea, Laurie! I haven't tried this one, but I will soon. Thanks! = )

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  6. Dear Becky,
    Some suggest writing questions at the bottom of the text you've written last in a creative work. It gives your mind something to work on while you're away. When you get back, you can answer the questions by writing. Dun de dun!
    I like the whiteboard storyboard idea.
    Thanks for sharing your ideas.

    Celebrate you and your many talents.
    Never Give Up

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    1. I love this idea, Joan! Thanks so much! I am going to start doing this NOW!

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  7. I have a framed corkboard w/pics relating to my wip, and it definitely helps me to look at it to get some creative juices flowing!

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    1. Another great idea, Leandra, especially for anyone who is a visual learner. Thank you!

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  8. Getting back into writing can be SO difficult. I try to set a timer and force myself to begin. Once I start it becomes easier, for that day anyway. (I'm liking your orange and purple site!)

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    1. Thank you, Marcia--another vote in the "just sit down and write" category. This worked well for me this week!

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  9. I joined the Start the Year Write Challenge.... it ends tomorrow but I"m sure if you are not in it, you could probably still read the posts on Shannon Abercrombies (sp?) blog. There are lots of good ideas there that have helped me.

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    1. Thank you SO much for bringing this awesome site to my attention! I don't know how I have never seen this one before, but it is wonderful! (Here is the link if anyone else wants to head over there: http://www.shannonabercrombie.com/my-blog/ )

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  10. Hi, Becky. I'm like you -- I do best when I know I have two hours set aside for writing. Because of that, my best periods of writing are always when I'm fiercely protective of 8-10 AM writing time. No distractions or appointments allowed.

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    1. I need to work towards this goal, as well. This is a fabulous idea!

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