5 Tips for How to Return to Writing After a Long Break

Making a return to writing after a long time away can feel overwhelming or even bewildering. Depending on the reasons for your break, you may be confronting a wide array of emotions—everything from anticipation and excitement to trepidation and confusion. If you find yourself worried or uncertain about how to proceed, the first step is simply to acknowledge those feelings.

As you may know, I recently returned to fiction writing after a lengthy break. My break was precipitated by the stress of difficult life circumstances, combined with writer’s block from a complicated story. The first few years of my break were filled with lots of fighting with myself about the fact that I should be writing; the last few years were spent in what I called a “conscious sabbatical.” Needless to say, rediscovering the desire to write was a long and arduous journey, full of unforgettable vistas and plenty of plot twists.

By the time I knew I wanted to write again and knew I what I wanted to write, I had lived through four years and two moves. I wasn’t the same person as when I last set down the pen. So much difficulty and pain had surrounded my writing during those years that even though I now wanted to write and was ready to write, I knew I would have to carefully reintroduce myself to the process. I would have to be willing to not just remember how I used to do things, but also to discover and invent brand-new approaches.

5 Ways to Set Yourself Up for Success When You Return to Writing After a Long Break

I share this post today not just because it is pertinent to where I am in my own writing journey, but because I received a request from Annette Taylor on the same subject:

My question is, how to start writing again after time away? I took care of my mom and was too exhausted to write. Now I work and still have no time but an hour or two on Saturday. Where do I start? I forgot half the knowledge I learned when I first started. I am writing but something is missing. Should I give up?

For starters, I will say that only an individual can determine what is right for his or her circumstances. But if you decide the time isn’t right (or may never be right) to return to your writing, this isn’t giving up. Rather, I would say you are choosing to embrace change. You are choosing to be present with who you are now and to nurture that person—until it is time for the next change.

However, the resistance and confusion you feel could also just be the result of returning to a place you have not visited in a very long time. Couple that with the weight of all the reasons you needed to take a break, as well as the pressure of regathering all your ideas, skills, knowledge, and discipline—and… it’s a lot. When you’re first dipping your toe back in the water, it’s important to take it easy and to make sure you’re avoiding any piranhas.

1. Start Slow and Easy

As I geared up to return to a regular writing practice, I knew I needed to be both gentle and strategic with myself. I needed to make plans and create systems that would set me up for success. When we think about “writing,” most of our focus often goes to the finer points of theory and technique—to getting the story “right.” But the process of writing deserves just as much of our attention. If we haven’t set up a process that encourages our own individual creative flow, we can sabotage ourselves before we even get to technique. For me, I knew I needed to at least temporarily dial back my own natural intensity by starting slow and easy.

Partly, this meant choosing a story that felt “easy” to write—one I was excited about but also one that was not too complex or outside my comfort zone. One of the final turning points out of my writer’s block was my decision to write an idea I had for a fantasy story that was more in the style of a “fairy tale.” Really, this was just personal semantics, but it helped me zero in on a less complex version of the story’s plot, geography, and magic system. This was particularly important for me, since I’d burned myself out on all of these things in the story I’d been working on previously.

More than that, I didn’t want to throw myself into a difficult writing schedule right off the bat. An anecdote: years ago, I used to skip rope for ten minutes every morning. When I first started, I felt like there was no way I could keep going for that long. So I didn’t even try. Instead, I started the first day by skipping for just one minute, which was totally within my power. Every day, I added just one minute. By Day 10, I was skipping for ten minutes with little to no mental resistance. Ever since then whenever I’m feeling resistance to the time or effort involved in a new undertaking, I always try to apply some variation of this approach.

In the old days, I disciplined myself to write two hours a day, five days a week. When I was first getting back into my writing, that just felt like too much. I decided I would write for an hour, since I knew from experience I generally need at least that long to really get into my writing and feel I’ve made progress. But an hour isn’t so long that I feel resistance or the urge to procrastinate whenever I sit down. From there, I knew I could build up to lengthier spans of time with much less resistance.

Your Takeaway: Each person’s “easy” amount of time to start off with will vary. For some, an hour may seem way too challenging or even unavailable. If so, start with half an hour or ten minutes. Start with one minute! If you add a minute every day, as I did with my rope skipping, you can up your time relatively quickly with little resistance.

2. Choose the Right Time of Day

For me, timing is everything. And the right time may change depending on what else is going on in my life. For many years, the right time for me to write was from 4–6 in the afternoon. Then I switched to the mornings. Then I switched to the evenings. Then I switched back. If I can find the sweet spot in the flow of my day, I feel so much less resistance and am much likelier to actually sit down and start writing on time without procrastinating.

This time around, I decided the best time for me to write would be late mornings. Another reason I decided to start with one hour instead of two is that this was much easier to fit back into my daily schedule. For two years, I hadn’t even tried to write, which meant it was not a part of my daily routine. And as a very routine-oriented person, part of the resistance I felt to getting back into my writing was just the fact that I would have to change up my day.

So I hacked it. I waited a few weeks until Daylight Saving Time ended here in the U.S. in early November. Instead of sleeping in for an extra hour as I usually would, I kept my sleep schedule the same and got up an hour earlier on the clock. This gave me an extra hour in the morning in which to write. (I “lost” the hour in the evening by going to bed an hour earlier on the clock.) Not only did this allow me to blissfully skip the messed-up sleep schedule everyone else struggled through, I also got to keep my morning routine exactly the same up until the point where I found myself with a whole hour for writing before lunch.

Your Takeaway: Think about your own daily schedule and your energy flow. Everyone’s scheduling challenges will be different, but try to identify what available slot will be best (and easiest) for a return to your writing habit. Select a chunk of time in which you won’t feel too pressured to do something else. Returning is hard enough on its own; you don’t want to give yourself any extra reasons to avoid it.

3. Create Ritual

As I say, I have always relied on routines. But in the last four years, I also began to learn the value of ritual. In many ways routine and ritual are the same, but ritual puts more emphasis on being present and savoring the moment. Routine is something you have to do; ritual is something you get to do. A habitual ritual is also a good way to train your brain to click over into writing mode. Just like you have to be in the perfect sleeping position before your brain shuts off at night, you can also accustomize yourself to slipping back into your writing zone by creating cues.

While routines can include important tasks such as reading over what you wrote the day before and maybe doing a little editing, rituals are more elective. My top priority was finding ways to stay grounded and focused, so I created a little ritual to help me stay present in my body by activating my senses. I start with a little grounding exercise, in which I imagine sending all my energy into my core and then down through my feet. Then I light a candle, turn on some ambient music I downloaded to my phone, and indulge in the scent of essential oils.

Your Takeaway: Your ritual should be personalized to you. The trick is choosing cues that are simple enough to remember and implement without having to think too much about them. Keep any tools handy at your desk, so they are immediately within reach at writing time and you won’t be distracted running around the house to find them.

4. Learn From Past Mistakes

You may have stopped writing for any number of reasons. Some of those reasons can be good—like getting married, having a baby, or taking an exciting new job that requires all your energy for a while. But often, the reasons are less-than-great. Maybe something difficult happened, such a prolonged illness or the death of a loved one. Or maybe you just got discouraged or burned out on your writing. Whatever the case, you may want to spend some thought on how you can implement any lessons learned during your break.

My time away from writing showed me three specific things I wanted to do differently this time around:

1. The first was simply avoiding some of the self-inflicted complexities that had caused my plot block with the previous book.

2. The second was being aware of the potential for burnout and not over-pressuring myself to perform. Rather, I wanted to approach this new story purely for my own enjoyment and to take it at my own pace.

3. The third, and perhaps most important, was that I wanted to stay grounded and not let myself be distracted by the Internet (more on that in the next section).

Your Takeaway: Before you return to writing, consider why you quit in the first place. Are there things you wish you had done differently back then? The answer may be “no”—in which case, carry on as before! But you may identify a few habits that weren’t serving you. This time, start as you mean to go on.

5. Prioritize Self-Discipline to Create New Habits

Octavia Butler said:

Forget inspiration. Habit is more dependable. Habit will sustain you whether you’re inspired or not.

I will be the first to acknowledge that quotes like these can be misleading. At first glance, they sound as if they are discounting the ebb and flow of creativity and the sometimes delicate needs of inspiration. Having driven my chariot with the twin steeds of Discipline and Willpower for many years (until it crashed), I spent the four years of my writing break re-learning how to bring gratitude and gentleness to my interactions with my creativity.

However, the fact remains: discipline is necessary to sustain any long-term writing practice. The trick, as I have learned it, is to use that discipline to work with our own rhythms and intuitions, rather than against them. There’s a huge difference between, say, forcing yourself to write two books a year to keep up with market demand, versus disciplining yourself to sit down and write for an hour rather than twiddling away the time on celebrity gossip.

Outlining Your Novel: Map Your Way to Success by K.M. Weiland

Outlining Your Novel (Amazon affiliate link)

If there was one habit I knew I wanted to implement into my new writing practice, it was simply not allowing myself to be distracted. This will be an ongoing challenge, but during my initial return to writing, I carefully chose how and where I would write to help myself fulfill this goal. Because I like to write my outlines longhand in a notebook, I decided to take my writing practice to an entirely different room from the one in which my business computer sits. I do have my phone at my elbow, playing music I download from YouTube, but I leave it on airplane mode. I make sure all of my writing papers and pens are in a handy drawer so I never have to hunt anything down.

Every time I find myself thinking those old dreaded thoughts, Oh, I’ll just hop on real quick and make sure my blog posted or I’ll just zoom around Pinterest for some inspiration or I’ll just run a speedy little fact check… I don’t. Instead, I remind myself how horrible it was when my brain was constantly distracted just by the possibility that I might divert my attention from my writing for five seconds here and ten seconds there.

Now, writing time is writing time.

Your Takeaway: Whatever your challenges were the last time around, consider how you can now transform them into new and better habits. Doing so will not necessarily be easy. But for right now you have something rare in your possession: a clean slate. How can you take best advantage of that to remove the things that tripped you up or created resistance the last time around? You might decide to crack down on distractions, or you might decide your biggest stumbling blocks were gaps in your writing knowledge, or you might realize you were subtly sabotaging previous stories by letting yourself out of writing the really tough scenes. Whatever the case, now’s the time to implement new habits of self-discipline and to use your past struggles an incentive to stick with them.

***

Ultimately, I believe the biggest secret to making a successful return to writing is timing. Returning before you’re truly ready can exacerbate all the reasons you took a break in the first place. But once you’re sure you’re ready to get back in the game, take some time to reflect on what you’ve learned and how you can leverage those lessons to create a writing practice that is even more solid and enjoyable than it was before.

Wordplayers, tell me your opinions! Have you ever made a return to writing after a lengthy break? What was your biggest challenge in returning? Tell us in the comments!

Click the “Play” button to Listen to Audio Version (or subscribe to the Helping Writers Become Authors podcast in Apple Podcast or Amazon Music).

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About K.M. Weiland | @KMWeiland

K.M. Weiland is the award-winning and internationally-published author of the acclaimed writing guides Outlining Your Novel, Structuring Your Novel, and Creating Character Arcs. A native of western Nebraska, she writes historical and fantasy novels and mentors authors on her award-winning website Helping Writers Become Authors.

Comments

  1. Roughly 5 years ago I returned to writing after 5 year break. My reasons for leaving writing were different – I was taking on a community service role and something had to give. I totally walked away from the writing world, not expecting to return, but my role ended and I found I missed writing. So, back I came.
    There were a couple of things that made my return different. Because I totally withdrew from the writing role, I had to refresh my memory, and I probably wasn’t that great a writer to start with (I’ve lost most of my work from before the break after a couple of computer moves). I think this worked in my favor, because I approached my return to writing as continuing education, which led me to your column amongst other blessings:) I also restarted with short stories rather than novels.
    One difference in our approaches – I do not worry about many of the habit/ritual practices you refer to. Because I treat writing as a continuous exercise in learning, I periodically shake things up. For me, that keeps things fresh and interesting in a way that keeps my psyche engaged.

    • K.M. Weiland | @KMWeiland says

      It’s wonderful how life often leads us back along roads we’d thought we’d left behind forever.

  2. You always post an article when I need it most. The odd thing is this time it’s about art for me rather than writing. About thirty years ago, I made a conscious choice between art and writing. Writing won. I was a young parent of a young boy and worked full-time. I simply didn’t have the time or energy to pursue both creative activities. I can’t tell you why I chose writing, exactly, maybe because it was more challenging.

    Lately, after writing a novella about an artist who stops creating (for very different reasons), I felt the urge to paint again and explore digital art. I didn’t know where to start except for beating myself up for being so rusty and so ignorant of the programs out there.

    And here comes your article! I’m going to use these tips to ease back into it. I’m also starting yoga again and feel many of these ideas apply to that practice as well.

    Thank you for continuing to share your journey with us!

    • K.M. Weiland | @KMWeiland says

      That’s great. It’s always wonderful when creativity can express itself in different mediums.

  3. A full time teaching job took every ounce of creativity that I had for 12 years. I returned to writing as soon as I retired. I was an ELA teacher but I taught a different type of writing. I hired an editor to help me after I finished my first book. The routine of writing is so healthy for me. I finish all the rest of the things I need to do in the morning and write in the afternoon.

  4. Thank you very much for this post. I’ve been trying to get back into writing for quite some time. I berated myself and felt a tad guilty. Your suggestions are very welcome, and I plan on implementing some of them. I wish everyone much luck on their writing journey. Thanks again.

    • K.M. Weiland | @KMWeiland says

      No need to feel guilty. If you’re *not* writing yet, then there are good reasons for that. If you stay with whatever feelings of resistance you may be having, eventually you’ll discover what they have to tell you, so you can perhaps move forward.

  5. Silvia C. Valentini says

    I can’t Thank You enough. Your advice always so much on target. Reading your posts is like talking with a friend in the world of writing. And your books the best! I’ve read them and keep them for consultation. Thank You!

  6. Odell O Ottmar says

    Thank you so much for words I needed to “hear”. Upon reflection I was becoming/had become obsessed with writing what “others wanted to read” — like I’m omniscent to everyone’s mind and wants. So now I believe I’m ready to go back to writing for me and what I want — egotistic, maybe but also reality I love to write, and now feel I can and will — slow and easy. You’ve brought much needed reality back to my life. mikiel

    • Odell,
      You nailed my biggest problem: wanting to write for what “others wanted to read”. I published my first book in July of last year, and sales are very slow, even after my having followed the advice in countless articles about promoting my book. Of the few readers, I got great reviews and ratings on Amazon, but still …

      So I felt like few people wanted to read my writing, so why write anymore? I confess that I’m still in the doldrums from that disappointing experience.

      I need to make a hard decision: am I a writer (who writes because it’s in my nature) or was I writing to get a book done? I’m still trying to be patient with myself with that decision. Thanks!!!

      • Mikiel M Ottmar says

        Actually my name is Mikiel M Ottmar, I must have clicked the wrong button previously.

      • I feel you, Carter. That’s called “writing to market.” I’ve tried it and hate it. HATE it. I’ve heard people say it’s the only way to make money. Maybe it is—I would be living under a bridge if I depended solely on my book sales. It’s nice to have some people loving my weird books, though. In my case, I’ve decided to write what I love for my small audience. After yet another try slogging through writing to market, I’m working this morning on the genre mash up mystery series I love and the words are flying from my fingertips.

        As an aside, you might want to check your blurb and key words to make sure you’re not leaving out something that could affect your sales. I added “dark” to a few of my books and sales picked up because, I think, the right people started seeing them.

        I hope you find what works best for you soon. (I’m rooting for you to join the renegades, though!)

    • K.M. Weiland | @KMWeiland says

      I don’t see that as egotistical in the least. In fact, I believe the greatest good we can bring to others through our writing is by creating honestly from the depth of our own interest and experience. Very often, the things I write that I doubt will be of interest to others but that come the depths of myself are the pieces that seem to connect most with others. Even when they don’t connect, I’m always better off for writing them, even if I’m the only one who benefits.

  7. I’ve been writing first thing in the morning for more than 40 years. Now that i’m retired, I write for a couple of hours or more. If I don’t write then I feel “off”. I guess that I’ve got the habit down, now for the rest.

    Thanks for the tips! You’re always helpful.

  8. One of the things I found helpful when I went back to writing after a multiple year break was to approach my story and view it as a series of scenes. I would look at it and say “I’m just going to write the scene where Betty does xxxx” or “the reader needs to know this part here to understand what I’m doing next so I will just describe that particular situation” By breaking it up into chunks, it’s not the overwhelming monster you are trying to craft. Instead, you are just doing this one little bit. It might take twenty minutes, it might take three hours, but all you have to worry about is that slice you are looking at right now. Then, you string that scene into the next, and so on and so on, until you have some half a million words in need of a good editor to trim it into a good second draft.

    • K.M. Weiland | @KMWeiland says

      Yes, I definitely found it helpful to examine how I could simplify my approach and make it as easy on myself as possible in the beginning.

  9. Thank you. As usual, your posts come when I need them. Many memorable quotes from this one!

  10. Thank you. The last few years have changed my life and expectations so much. Life isn’t the same now and neither am I. Finally made the decision to stop feeling guilty about not writing. Last night I had the urge to write. Didn’t want to start again without a kind and gentle and new plan. Then your article landed just as I needed it. Glad you’re back 🙂

    • K.M. Weiland | @KMWeiland says

      Indeed. And, yes, I’ve had similar experiences—when I stop fighting with myself or shaming myself for *not* doing something and just accept what is, often the thing becomes easy and available all of a sudden.

  11. I am trying to get back into my writing. I did a lot of fanfiction in 2020 to practice writing scenes, dialogue, and plots. I got a lot of good responses, but due to a death in the family, the burnout following 2020, and a new job which is very stressful, plus trying to build my academic credentials, I didn’t have the time or energy even though I’d outlined the entire second book. I am trying to juggle multiple balls right now, but I like your suggestion of planning your time. I just sat down and plotted out my writing time for my fiction and academic writing. I want to get back on track to start drafting some fiction novels and short stories I hope to publish.

    • K.M. Weiland | @KMWeiland says

      That’s great! I hear you on the reality of burnout. I hope you find a schedule that allows you to balance all you want to do without overwhelming your nervous system.

  12. I will echo the thanks of the other comments, but I think you missed one very significant element. I am a first-time writer and took 2+ years off. My enthusiasm level is very high, but I realize I’ve forgotten much of what I learned 3-4 years ago (from you and others) when I was just starting.

    For all of us mere mortals in the writing world who don’t possess your knowledge and experience, I strongly suggest you revisit your notes, favorite blogs, etc. to refresh your memory. I re-read many of the articles I saved previously and not only refreshed my memory, but also understood the concepts better. I also leaned quite a few that were new or that I had forgotten. Net result is that I feel much more prepared and confident than if I had not done so.

    • K.M. Weiland | @KMWeiland says

      Thanks for share this. One thing that was tremendously helpful in my return to writing was the fact that, even though I wasn’t writing fiction in those years, I was still writing *about* fiction here on the site, every week. I still felt fresh and aware of the process, as if I’d never left it. But for those who aren’t doing that, re-reading favorite writing books is a great way to start easing back into the process.

  13. Colleen F Janik says

    Thank you for another great post. In my life where life so frequently seems to interfere with any writing schedule I attempt to lock in, the trick is always to be able to find my way back into that world I was creating. I feel like the characters keep locking me out. Now with my my recent project, I have a total of ninety-eight note cards so far so that I can review my most powerful inspirations and find my way back in more easily. These notes also remind me that this project is very worthwhile.
    I sure appreciate the idea of finding the time of day when we can be most creative and productive. To allow myself just TWO HOURS out of twenty-four seems very doable for me, even if it’s not my prime time. I’m also PLANNING on engaging in a little review time before I go to bed at night so that when I wake up in the morning, I’ll be filled with wonderful new solutions and ideas.
    AND I always keep your books close by, especially Outlining Your Novel.

    • K.M. Weiland | @KMWeiland says

      “I’m also PLANNING on engaging in a little review time before I go to bed at night so that when I wake up in the morning, I’ll be filled with wonderful new solutions and ideas.”

      That’s a brilliant idea!

  14. I loved this episode — and thought the tip about hacking daylight savings time was brilliant. Thanks for all you do!

    • K.M. Weiland | @KMWeiland says

      Thanks, Jerry! Unfortunately, I’m going to have to suffer through the time change just like everyone else in March. 😉

  15. This year (2023) I’m doing something I’ve never done before: write a first draft by hand in a paper notebook. A major advantage is that I can write somewhere away from electronic devices (other than light bulbs). It’s also a handmade notebook (I bought it directly from the woman who made it) so it feels special. Since this is working so well, I’m planning to buy more notebooks from this woman (interestingly, it’s not much more expensive than buying mass-produced notebooks at the local bookstore, & her handmade notebooks are higher-quality).

    • K.M. Weiland | @KMWeiland says

      Very cool. I simply adore writing in notebooks. For me personally, I find it doesn’t work well for first drafts, since I don’t write by hand quickly enough and I like to edit as I go (and my handwriting is atrocious and getting worse by the year). But for brainstorming during the outlining phase, it’s simply the best.

  16. Louise Quo Vadis says

    Thank so much for posting this article. I found a lot of things you said very inspiring and helpful. Who knows maybe some day I will finally get to writing. Thank you for sharing your insights on writing.

  17. Another great article, K.M. I too, have returned to writing fiction (romance for me) after time away. The pandemic + the political climate really quashed my creativity. But like so many of my writing friends & colleagues, I was quietly miserable without my favorite creative outlet, even though other areas of my life are wonderful.
    Now I find I must work harder to find the discipline required to get to work, and I no longer have the stamina for long writing sessions.
    But I’m finishing the book I dropped at 77K and can’t wait to get it to readers.
    And once I’m back into the story, joy! I feel like myself again.
    Writing is not for cowards, is it? But it’s grand.

    • Cathryn Cade says

      So sorry, forgot to say – thanks for all the tips on getting back to it!

    • K.M. Weiland | @KMWeiland says

      That’s great! And, yes, there’s no reason we can’t decide we prefer to write in smaller chunks of time or less often. Finding the flow that works best is the most important factor to productivity.

  18. I am about to from a different type of break, from working nine-hour days to something called retirement. Whereas my previous writing time was during ten-minute “walk around the building” breaks and thirty-minute lunch breaks, I will now find myself with sixteen hours to write (assuming eight hours of sleep, two more than I got while working). So I’m not exactly returning from a break but readjusting my writing time using your tips and hints here. Thank you for your insight.

  19. Mike Nailer says

    Thank you. Always good to hear from you. I have enjoyed your YouTube videos fro many years.
    Sincerely,
    Mike

    • K.M. Weiland | @KMWeiland says

      Thank you! I haven’t updated YouTube in years. Thinking about getting back into it with some short Q&A videos this year.

  20. After a junior University tutor in my Creative Writing Masters nit picked his way through my final submission, I lost interest in the course and hung my 5000 words out to dry. Not sure I’m ready to advance that story again so I went back to a redraft of an earlier redraft of a novel and started at the end. So I am working backwards to the middle section – which I was never quite happy with – and see how I can do a better structural job.
    So maybe one day you could post (again) about where to start the story; back-end, middle or front-end.
    As always your posts are so timely and spot on.Wouldn’t miss them for quids
    Max from Australia

  21. Judith Field says

    This post has come at just the right time for me. I’m just emerging from a very difficult set of circumstances leading to burnout, that meant I couldn’t write even if I found the space and time to do it.
    Now I want to resume. I will be gentle with myself and not beat myself up by comparing my “output” with the quantity other members of my writing group churn out.
    Thank you.

  22. Melanie Abramof says

    Thank you so much for this. I’ve been in a writer’s block for about ten years now. I’ve had little bursts of writing here and there but I can’t ever seem to stay consistent. For me, it was a mix of starting college, then getting married, then having a baby, but in a way I feel like some of those things were excuses and the real issue was that I got sooooo tripped up with worldbuilding and trying to create literature-level complex plots, and became discouraged that I could never be as brilliant or successful as the authors I admire. I also really fell out of the habit of self-discipline, in all areas, not just writing. I feel really disappointed in myself because becoming a writer was always one of my dearest goals in life and I haven’t done it yet. But this article inspired me to give it another try. Last night, as soon as I’d put my daughter to bed, I made a separate writing space in my house, put on some soundtrack music like I used to do, and worked on one of my story ideas for about an hour. Not writing yet, but it’s something. I hope I can keep it up.

    • K.M. Weiland | @KMWeiland says

      That’s wonderful! My suggestion would be to try focusing on everything you *love* about writing at this point, rather than pressuring yourself to “measure up” to outside standards. I always find it liberating to tell myself I’m writing something no one will ever read. I always mean it sincerely, but often those pieces end up being my best and I’m proud to share them. But I try not to put the pressure on upfront. That’s easier said than done, but it’s a generous and helpful mindset, the more we can live in it.

  23. Joan Ruark says

    Your suggestions here are filled with wisdom. Maybe sometimes we need an interruption in our pursuits to achieve the next level of wisdom to get us where we are ultimately destined to go. I think the advice you are offering here is some of the best advice I’ve seen from you. And I’ve always admired your advice to writers.

    • K.M. Weiland | @KMWeiland says

      Although it can be hard to remember when we’re in the thick of life circumstances, nothing is ever wasted. Sometimes the hardest moments end up bearing the most fruit.

  24. Annette Taylor says

    Your article was helpful. I’ll try to regain my discipline. But the best advice of all was to start small. I think I can handle that and from there work my way up to a short story. Maybe some day even a novel.

    • K.M. Weiland | @KMWeiland says

      Yes, the weekend warrior mindset can be just as counter-productive for creating as for working out.

  25. Mikiel Ottmar says

    Your weekend warrior certainly resonates with me. Thank you, mikiel

  26. This is a fantastic post that is not only inspiring, but also highly informative for those looking to return to writing after a long break. The writer shares their personal journey and provides valuable insights into the emotional and psychological challenges that come with returning to a creative pursuit after time away. The 5 Ways to Set Yourself Up for Success section is especially helpful, offering practical tips and strategies for anyone who may be feeling overwhelmed or uncertain about how to proceed. Overall, a well-written and thoughtful piece that provides comfort and guidance to those looking to jumpstart their writing journey.

  27. Get inspired and gain valuable insights on returning to writing with this amazing post! The writer shares their personal journey and tackles the emotional and psychological hurdles of picking up a creative pursuit after time away. The highlight of the post? The “5 Ways to Set Yourself Up for Success” section packed with practical tips and strategies for anyone feeling unsure about their writing comeback. A must-read for all those seeking comfort and guidance on their writing journey.

  28. Excellent post- not only for coming back from a break but great coaching for keeping a practice going. Thank you

  29. After losing a complete novel back in the early noughties due to a computer crash and a faulty back up drive, I decided to give up writing. It was a conscious decision based on two- and a-bit years of wasted time. But as writers do, when the pain had worn away, I tried to write again. But even though my head was filled with ideas they were just not coming out correctly.
    Anyway, here is where I get to the point. I forced myself to write. I chose a word, the first in the newspaper, that morning every weekend and had to write a short story about that individual word. It took a while; The word could be “Murder” or “If” or “Brexit”, but this retrained my head. I know it is a forceful method and perhaps not suited to all but it worked for me.

  30. To discipline yourself means to give yourself knowledge.

    The most important factor is to know when you are doing something–anything–right. Opening that file with the story? Check. Jotting down a new idea–hopefully where you’ll find it–check. All of these deserve your approval. Take the time and energy to smile your approval when you notice yourself doing anything about your project. The smile will make this real, causing your mind to naturally and automatically look for ways to engender this sweet approval.

    And when your neurochemistry is looking for ways to repeat what you want it to do, it has a way of finding them. That means you’ve set your mind up to get going.

  31. Heather Raglin says

    Thanks for your article… very timely. I’ve stepped away from writing for about eight years due to some awful circumstances. Occasionally I’ve had thoughts of writing something, even jotted down some ideas, but I’m just finally getting to a place where I feel it’s the right time to give it a go again. Maybe a completely different age or genre than before. I appreciate your suggestions and will certainly implement some.

  32. Diane K. Young says

    I just scrolled down through all your responses and didn’t see anyone who stopped writing for my reason–post-COVID insecurity! I’m a freelance magazine feature writer. When Covid grounded all the airlines, it “grounded” the well-paying inflight magazines, many of which have never resumed publishing. Big owie! But during those two years, I did research and wrote the first drafts of 17 articles. But when things began opening up again, it was a whole new, strange world and I felt like I was starting at Square One again back in the 70s. Since then, I can’t make myself even try. I’ve developed a whopping mental block that keeps me from pitching any of those first drafts to unknown editors. This fear of the unknown has destroyed my self-confidence. I don’t feel like I can call myself a writer now and I don’t know how to dispel my mental paralysis. Has this happened to anyone else? If so, how did they pull themselves out of the mental soup? Do I need psychiatric counseling? I would be immensely grateful for any help.

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