As writers, we push ourselves to write day in and day out. That might mean creating a daily word count goal, completing a project by an arbitrary deadline, or telling ourselves that we need to write “more” than our usual amount to improve.
While any practice is generally better than no practice, there is a such thing as creative burnout. After all, we can’t write only when the muses are talking to us. But sometimes we overdue it when we’re determined to push onward in our craft.
There’s a fine line between pushing ourselves creatively and forcing ourselves to work on our writing when there isn’t anything to gain.
Have you ever watched a Youtuber take a break because they weren’t finding the content they were putting out fulfilling? Writing is the same, since we’re using our creative energy to craft stories.
That means, inevitably, some writers choose to take a writing hiatus. A writing hiatus is a period of time used to reflect on writing but not actually working on any pieces.
However, some writers take a writing hiatus not by choice — life happens, or they can’t seem to find the motivation to work on their book for some reason or another.
So whether you decided to take a month off or you’re looking to make a comeback after a time of being away from the craft, here’s some strategies to put yourself back on track after a writing hiatus.
Make a Plan to Come Back
The first step to having a successful writing hiatus is making a plan to come back.
Sometimes it can be easy to say, “whenever I feel like it, I’ll finally finish that book!” But if you don’t discipline your mind on coming back, you probably won’t for a long time.
Think of a writing hiatus like a vacation — you have plenty of time to relax, but when you come back the next week you’re back to normal working hours.
And don’t use “life” as an excuse not to come back, either. Sure, some things may happen — moving, settling into a new job, having a baby, or some other altering event — but eventually you’ll need to rebound back if you want to write again.
And that means making the choice to. Only you can decide when you’re coming back from your writing hiatus.
Keeping in mind the time frame you want to come back to the hobby will bring you closer to your writing goals. This decision will bring you back to writing again once you take a much-needed break.
Another way to get back into working on your writing after a hiatus is by starting small. That means instead of telling yourself that you’re going to write 5k on your first day, you start with a smaller goal of 1k or 2k.
Think of coming back from a writing hiatus as exercising your mind. You can’t run ten miles without training for it, and the same goes for writing: you won’t write fulfilling words if you try to push yourself as soon as you come back.
Besides, if you immediately leap back into the craft without easing yourself in, you might find yourself experiencing the same problem that lead you to take the writing hiatus.
Here’s a few ways you can help ease yourself back into the writing craft:
- Do 30 minute prewriting exercises before you start. When you’re getting ready to write, you can expand your mind with a few creative exercises. Whether that’s freewriting, journaling, or writing something based on a prompt, you’re training yourself to think outside the box. This will help you look at your writing with an open, creative mind.
- Hold yourself accountable to your small goal. Don’t be tempted to browse the internet or look at your phone while you’re getting into the groove of writing. Instead, hold yourself accountable and close out your tabs. If you find yourself looking at social media, punish yourself in small ways such as not buying your favorite Starbucks drink later that day. You want to motivate yourself to focus on your writing.
- Don’t look for perfection immediately. Sometimes we can be our harshest critics as writers. While you’re swinging back from your hiatus, it’s okay if you’re a little rusty. Use this as an opportunity to practice your skill and build on what you know.
Now that you have a small goal in mind, you can tackle your writing with a new perspective.
Take time to relearn the mindset
When it comes to writing, there’s a lot to know: grammar, spelling, sentence structures, style, proper citations, and adding your own unique voice to the work.
After a writing hiatus, you might be a rusty on some of these. That means there may be times when you’re teaching yourself how to write a book from start to finish.
However, don’t shortcut: you want to make sure you’re rereading your drafts if your habit is to proofread the next day. And don’t forget to get yourself back into the groove of polishing your work before sending it off, whether that’s to an agent or the online world.
Don’t be afraid to ask questions to other writers or use websites to relearn some of the best practices. Everything you’re doing will make you better as a writer, and maybe you’ll learn something you hadn’t internalized before!
Use this as an Opportunity to Go Through Old Work
Now that you’ve successfully completed your writing hiatus, that means you probably haven’t looked at anything you’ve written for a long time.
However, a writing hiatus can give you a new perspective for when you do choose to go back to that work. You might notice awkward dialogue, plot twists that don’t make sense, or that one storyline you forgot to connect the dots with at the end.
A writing hiatus gives you the ability to critically analyze your work with fresh eyes. Your future revisions will be much stronger, and so will the new elements you add into the same story.
Look at your writing hiatus as a way to bring new ideas to what you’ve written. You’ll notice more than when you wrote the first time, so you can use this to your advantage to better your book.
Never see it as “too late”
Now I understand that there might be a group of you out there reading this who haven’t written something for years.
You might be thinking about how long your writing hiatus was.
And you might be thinking, “it’s longer than I hoped.”
But it’s never too late to come back from a writing hiatus, no matter how much time has passed.
There is no gate when it comes to writing. You can start learning the craft no matter where you are in life.
What are you waiting for? If you want to write a book, now’s the perfect time to start again!
Time to write!
Now that you’re done with your writing hiatus, what are you waiting for?
Get off the internet and start working on your draft!