This week at A Very Important Meeting, Alise was using the meeting to get back into her novel after travel pulled her away. But howwwwwww…
If you’ve taken time off from writing (or, somehow time just passed and now you realized it’s been days, weeks, or months), it’s never as simple as just sitting down to write.
The guilt/self-doubt swamp
How could you have let so much time pass? What the heck were you doing? Are you even a writer???
Beware! Berating yourself thusly is only more time spent NOT writing. Zoom in and study the chart below, the Weekly Word Output Produced via Resilience vs. the Shame Cycle.
As you can see, if you commit to not wasting your time on yelling at yourself, you’ll have more time to write. Be that inflatable clown that pops up, every time it gets punched down.
How you get back in the groove
Momentum is not on your side. You are still in the water, dreaming of cruising at top speed. How do you even start again? Being creative, thinking of ideas, for the love of god, writing??? Feels impossible.
Here’s what I do instead, to limber up:
Just read it.
Today, you’re just going to read the last bit you wrote. Perhaps the last chapter, last draft, or last week’s notes. You can’t fail at reading, especially for a set time period, like 45 minutes. But, I will warn you that, when you do this, you might be surprised to find yourself editing, or god forbid, writing.
Make a list.
What are 10 possible things that might happen in this chapter? What are 10 ideas for your next essay? What are 10 first sentences you might consider? Lists are not art. No pressure.
Write out your vision.
Write out the idea for this piece. These are simply notes to self. “What I want here is a darkly funny bonding episode between these two characters where he thinks he might love her and also that something is deeply wrong with her.” This is the horizon you’re plotting toward. I find this also tends to make me excited, because we love the vision of our work! It’s why we work. It lands you in the realm of possibility rather than the depths of flagellation.
Get some accountability! What I love about A Very Important Meeting is that we help you calm your mind with the opening mindfulness practice, then we make you sit with us and work for 45 minutes. It’s the ultimate procrastination-slayer.
Here’s what Alise said after coming back: