If you’re anything like me, it only takes a few days away from your regular writing routine to throw everything in your life out of whack.
I’ve been in Canada visiting family for the last six weeks. That’s six weeks of sleeping in late, having all my meals cooked for me (thanks Mom!), and not really writing anything but blog posts.
I’ve been doing a lot of mental composting for my novel-in-progress, filing future ideas, and collaborating with another writer on an upcoming online project, but, part of me has been worried about the return to Australia and the return to my regular routine.
Maybe you’re looking to ease back into writing during early September when your children return to school. Perhaps you’ve had a summer vacation from your writing, and now you realize it’s time to put your nose to the grindstone again.
To make the transition that little bit easier, try the following six strategies:
1. Empty your inbox
The worst part of returning from a writing or blogging hiatus is the build-up of stuff you’ve been putting off for later. For me, that means my email inbox is full of unanswered notes and a to-do list the length of my arm.
It’s difficult to launch back into your regular routine with the thought of unfinished business looming over you, so before I even think of cracking open my novel again, I’ll make sure I’ve answered my emails, filed them in my archives, and ticked off any to-dos.
Think of it as clearing your mental slate.
2. Organize your surroundings
Right now, I’m sitting on my couch, trying to focus on writing this blog post. But something’s been distracting me since I started: the dining room tablecloth is lopsided.
By lopsided, I mean it’s hanging nearly to the ground on one end, and baring the edge of the table on the other. My centrepiece and placemats have slid far from their usual resting places. It’s annoying me enough to necessitate putting down my laptop and righting the tablecloth before I can continue.
If you’ve been on vacation (real or mental), your surroundings may be less-than-tidy. Before you try to launch back into your regular writing routine, reorganize your surroundings so when you do sit down to work, you won’t be distracted by piles of unwashed dishes, dusty shelves, or lopsided tablecloths.
3. Get up earlier
I must admit I’m rather glad to be slightly jet-lagged after travelling from the opposite side of the world, because it makes it a whole lot easier to get up earlier than I usually would.
I rose at 5:30 this morning, while the rest of my family members were asleep. The house is peaceful. I feel relaxed knowing I won’t need to rush .
Getting up even half an hour earlier than the rest of your family gives you some breathing time. And, in many writers’ opinions, morning is the very best time of the day to write.
4. Take it one step at a time
The best way to set myself up for failure after a six-week holiday would be to say, “Okay, Monday morning I return to blogging, my novel, and freelance writing.”
While some may thrive on that type of pressure, the majority of us are better off re-entering our former routines one step at a time.
Today I write a blog post. Tomorrow, I might re-open my novel draft and cry at how much work still needs to go into it. A few days later, I’ll probably get serious about scoring some freelance writing assignments.
Give yourself time to ease back into your routine, but don’t allow so much time between each task that you lose motivation.
5. Revisit your goals
A great way to reignite your passion is to revisit the goals you wrote down when you first committed to writing. (If you haven’t already set goals, now would be the best time to do it.)
The personal goals I set for this year began with finishing my novel by the end of December. I also wanted to take my blog to the next level and find ways to monetize my writing efforts.
By looking back over the goals I wrote down many months ago, I can see how much I’ve accomplished, and motivate myself to achieve those goals within the preferred time frame.
Revisiting your current goals or setting new ones will get you back on the writing-track in no time.
6. Cook once, eat twice (or more)
This is by far my favourite tip, and one I’m implementing for the first time.
Because I need to find extra time in my day for writing, I decided to try batch cooking.
Instead of buying pricey jars of baby food (about $3-$4 per day worth), or instead of cooking and whizzing up baby food each day, I bought fresh ingredients from the market and made a huge pot of baby casserole that will last nearly two weeks. I did the same with some mixed fruits, and–voila–I don’t have to make baby food again for quite some time.
Today I’ll be doing the same for the rest of the family–batch cooking that is, not whizzing baby food! Each time you cook something that can be frozen, make several meals worth and freeze it into family-sized portions. You’ll spend only a fraction of the time cooking and cleaning up, which equals extra writing time for you.
Back on Track
It’s not always easy to get back into a writing routine when you’ve taken a significant break, but these six strategies will help make the transition easier. Forget the stress of trying to make everything perfect, and give yourself time to work back up to your former productivity level.
Have you ever taken a long break from writing? Did you manage to get back into the same routine, and if so, how?
What other tips do you have to share for easing back into a writing routine?
Join the discussion
Teri Rees Wang says
Oh, I so totally need…a routine.
Adventures in Children's Pub says
Love this. There’s an old Czech proverb I use frequently — cut once, measure twice. Never thought of applying it to my writing. But I definitely will from now on.
My mom has been trying to tell me to cook once, eat twice forever, but it really is the best advice I’ve come across for freeing up time (that is, if you’re in charge of the cooking in your household!) Thanks.
P.I. Barrington says
This is a very helpful list! I plan to implement as many as I can!
MargaretAnn Abrahams says
These are great practical tips. I’ve been back in California for while – after almost three weeks in France and Italy – and I’m still struggling to get back into my daily writing routine. One thing that has helped is a previously scheduled meeting with my critique group. I have to think about my WIP before we meet. Any deadline like that, even an arbitrary one, is helpful.
I totally agree that deadlines are a great way to motivate yourself to do your work. Any kind of accountability is helpful. Perhaps I should have used that as one of my points in this article! Thanks for the tip 🙂
Liz Luna says
This is really good advice considering I haven’t written in over a year and just recently started back. However, working two jobs seems to get in the way with daily chores on top of it. Any suggestions? I am not a morning person at ALL.
That’s a tough situation, Liz. I know when I was teaching I did very little of anything other than my job and house work.
Try cutting out the stuff that doesn’t absolutely need to be done. Do one major house clean per week, and just do the dishes/laundry the other days. Try putting in a load of laundry last thing at night and sticking it in the dryer first thing in the morning (so you’re not waiting around for it all day).
As for the actual writing, enlist any help you can get. If you have young children, ask someone to give you a hand whenever possible, whether that be a couple of hours on the weekend, or an hour at night.
Hope this helps! I might write a post about this soon–I’m sure it would make a great topic.
Excellent tips! I wouldn’t call myself a morning person but I am a firm believer that getting up before the rest of the house wakes is beneficial to a good writing routine.
I don’t think anyone becomes a morning person until there’s a reward for getting up early. Like coffee! That’s my main motivator, to be honest 😉
Great post… very inspiring!
Lisa Gail Green says
This is great! Thanks. It is hard to get back into the swing of things sometimes.
@ P.I Barrington
Thanks for stopping by! Glad this post was helpful to you all 🙂