How to Get Back into a Project

Here’s hoping my manuscript is half this glad to see me again.
Photo by Ketut Subiyanto on

Before my dad got sick, I managed to work on my novel and my nonfiction book proposal every day. I’d made good progress on both and was on track to be done by the end of the year. But with him in the hospital, I was there 12 hours a day for two and a half weeks. I worked on contract work but these two project fell by the wayside. I’ve yet to get back to them.

My hope is that next week will be the week. But by then we’ll have been apart for two months. How do you get back into a project after a long absence? The nonfiction isn’t going to be a problem. I can slip back into nonfiction with very little fuss. But the novel? That’s going to take a bit of work fortunately there are several ways I can go about it.

Read what is written. If you’ve written several chapters for a longer book or several spreads for a picture book, reread what you’ve already written.  Don’t read silently.  Read it aloud so that you can literally hear the voice. That’s something that should help me with this project.

Revisit your inspiration.  What inspired you to write this piece in the first place?  Perhaps it is something you were inspired to write after hearing a news story on NPR.   Listen to this piece again.  Or reread the news article that made you want to cover this topic.  For me this is often enough to renew my enthusiasm and get me going again. I need to find some nonfiction to read.

Visit the time or place.  If you are writing a piece set in a specific time period.  Get back into that period.  Listen to music.  Maybe you can find a recording of a news cast or other period material.  Visit Youtube and see if someone has posted a video of your location.  Get a feel once again for the time and place of your story. I was about to say that I can’t do that but I do have a space exploration encyclopedia I can sample.

What’s been going on?  Ask your character what it has been like waiting for you to get back.  Why does she want you to get going again?  I know this sounds hokey but this technique always brings new insight into my story and makes me want to dive back in.

Engage in a writing or rewriting ritual.  Do you have something you do every time you sit down to write?  Mine isn’t a writing ritual but when I do hard copy rewrites, I set things up in the dining room.  I have my print out, an automatic pencil or nice pen, my licorice candle, and a cup of coffee.  I have no clue why this works, but it tends to get me going when nothing else does.

The next time you are trying to get over a long absence from a project, see if one of these techniques doesn’t get you started again.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s