View Full Version : Thoughts on resuming writing after a long break

09-01-2014, 04:12 AM
Just wondering what changes were noted by others who have done this. No particular reason except curiosity.

I finished a flash story and sent it out today. I've been off writing for awhile. Finishing a book length collection seemed to start off my block/break/whatever. Family problems sealed it. I haven't sent anything out in ten months. Anyway, I'm back (I think) and finding it a bit strange.

- Do you find your imagination is kind of a luxury?

When I have other problems, my imagination is gone. Which is strange when it seems like retreating into fictional worlds would be an escape.

- Have you ever come back after a writing break and found your attitude was newbie-ish?

After a couple of years of sending out many short pieces all over the place, it took me several hours to pick my markets, like I didn't remember who publishes what. And even though my critiquer and I had gone through it word- by-word as usual and deemed it polished and ready, I kept getting this unusual insecurity that my story was not worthy of being sent out. Newbie jitters all over again. Ugh.

It's out though and I'm working on the next one so, hopefully, I'll soon have a ton of them out again and quit being weird. But just wondering what other peoples' experiences of "coming back" have been.

09-01-2014, 04:31 AM
I've been away from writing for more than two weeks only once in thirty-five years. Had a wee bit of a problem that culminated in going into a coma, and once I came out of the coma, it took about six months to become fully functional again.

For me, at first it was like starting all over from scratch, but without the new writer excitement. It all came back after three or four weeks, though, and from then on it was like I'd never had a pause.

09-01-2014, 06:25 AM
Imagination, for all it feels internal, is a well that in most of us can run dry if you don't fill it up. Give it stuff to fill it up. Time, interesting tidbits, good music, fairy tales, trips to the zoo...whatever.

Sometimes the well is dry and I have had to learn that digging will not fill it up any faster. In which case...time.

Michael Davis
09-01-2014, 07:39 AM
I've set a book aside up to 18 months while I focused on other projects and when I return, it's clearer what works in the story and what needs revision. It's why I work so many projects at one time (up to four). Also helps to keep a names/places list from the start to renegotiate when I return.

Liosse de Velishaf
09-01-2014, 08:44 AM
I have this problem for poetry, but almost never for fiction. It really sucks. :(

09-01-2014, 05:50 PM
I often have to take long breaks from writing and coming back to it is definitely hard. It takes a while to get back to the level I thought I was at before. But it does get better.

09-01-2014, 05:53 PM
I find it hard to come back to my writing after a long hiatus IF I'm working on a new book. If I'm coming back to my writing and editing/making additions to a previous draft, I find it easy. I guess I just find first drafts really hard. :-/

Siri Kirpal
09-01-2014, 08:30 PM
Sat Nam! (literally "Truth Name"--a Sikh greeting)

If I'm asked to write a set piece on a topic I know, then getting back into writing is a piece of cake.

But if I'm starting a new book, new territory, feeling my way and haven't been writing for awhile, yeah, it's hard.


Siri Kirpal

09-01-2014, 08:46 PM
I put my story on hold for about 7 years (!!). I've just come back to it and I am amazed at my level of writing. I was really in the zone then. So I'm afraid I can't reach that level again.... But I think it'll be okay.

09-01-2014, 11:58 PM
I stopped almost all original fiction (except for a little poetry) for ten years. Then jumped right back in. I noticed that my skills had improved over the time away.

09-02-2014, 02:25 AM
I wrote like crazy as a teenager, but then didn't really write at all from 19-23. I read a lot in that time period, though, including lots of classics and literary stuff, and I experienced a lot, including the kinds of emotional highs and lows I hadn't even known existed before. When I came back I was interested in writing totally different kinds of stories than I had before and in a quite different style. Like Filigree, I also found that I was a lot better.

Liosse de Velishaf
09-02-2014, 09:16 AM
I find it hard to come back to my writing after a long hiatus IF I'm working on a new book. If I'm coming back to my writing and editing/making additions to a previous draft, I find it easy. I guess I just find first drafts really hard. :-/

I have this problem, too. I find coming back to writing very hard in terms of putting actual words on paper. Doing pre-writing stuff and revisions are a lot easier for me.

I also agree with the experience of finding yourself a much better writer after coming back to it following a long break.

William Haskins
09-03-2014, 04:46 PM
a recent piece by bill hayes at the NYT, more or less on this topic: