03 July, 2013

Getting Back Into The Swing Of Things: An IWSG Post

Hello, everyone!

It's the first Wednesday of the month, so it's time for another Insecure Writer's Support Group post. More information about the IWSG is here.

My insecurity this month is trying to jump back into a story I was writing. The last edit date was 3/3/2013, according to Word--an embarrassing amount of time--and when trying to open the document, I realized I'd completely forgotten what I'd even titled it (it turned out to be National Novel Writing Month 2012, since I'd never come up with a real title sort of title). Not that I'd forgotten the characters/plot or anything, but it made me realize how far behind I am with the story.

My plan is to hit the ground running from here out: Don't reread too much, don't agonize over plot mistakes, don't worry about editing, just continue where I left off and follow the plot outline I made. That way I can finish the story faster and push continuity issues into revisions.

How do you usually get back to writing a story you've left alone for a while? Do you go over things extensively before writing again, or do you jump back in right away?

-----The Golden Eagle


Andrew Leon said...

I spend a lot of time re-reading, maybe even tweaking, so that I can get back into the same story space.

Sandy Campbell said...

Oh my!! I think once you go over where you left off, it will come back to you. I have started so many things, my document folder is loaded with things I want to write, and If I give my mind time...things do come back. Now my problem is just to sit down and do the work! Great post!! sandysanderellasmusings.blogspot.com

J.L. Campbell said...

If a long time has passed, I'll reread the story. If not, I'll skim and then pick up where I left off.

Maurice Mitchell said...

It's hard to get into the creative flow after a break Eagle.

JeffO said...

I'll skim it. I just did this with my WiP, which kind of faded into the background for a while.

Welcome back!

Suzanne Furness said...

Hope you manage to get back into the flow with your ms. Maybe the break has done it good and you will look at it with fresh eyes.

mshatch said...

If I'd been away from the story that long I'd probably have read it over from the beginning in order to get back into the groove. The hard part would be NOT trying to fix it as I read in order to get to where I left off and move on, like you said. That's been my downfall in the past.

Old Kitty said...

Glad you found your story!! Yay!! Good luck with it and enjoy!! I'm all for just ploughing onwards and upwards but my inner editor will insist on editing all previous chapters! Reesult: no progress and lots of writerly frustrations! Oh dear! Take care

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Welcome back!
I'd need to do a light re-read to put myself back into the flow of the story.

Susan Gourley/Kelley said...

If I've set it aside for a while, I have to reread everything before I can start up again. Good luck getting it going again.

M Pax said...

I left my WIP alone for two days and it's hard to go back. I force it. I usually have edits sitting on my desk to help ease me into it.

I print out what I wrote earlier in the day and hand edit in the evening. I begin each day by inputting those edits.

Another WIP gets left alone for more than a week sometimes. I just start where I left off.

Pat Hatt said...

I'd need to give it a once over again.

Liz said...

Every time I finish writing, I leave a little paragraph where I say what I need to work on next. When I get back to the story, whether it be the next day, the next week, or it ends up being months or years later, I start with that little paragraph and work from there.

Of course, when it's been a while, it takes me time to remember where I was and what I was doing. I may reread a bit to get back into the swing of it.

Trisha F said...

Yeah, I was just looking at my MASSIVE WIP list (i.e. not completed draft but still in progress getting to that point) and feeling a bit bewildered. haha.

It's hard when you've left a story that long, and you DO have to do a bit of re-reading sometimes, just to refresh your memory on where you were up to.

Jan Newman said...

When I've been away from a story for a while, I try to catch up with the last idea I was working on. If that doesn't work, then I go further back and do more revising until the creative juices start flowing and I'm back in the groove. Don't feel bad about forgetting where your novel was - been there, done that. Yeesh! Happy writing.

Krista McLaughlin said...

Ooo - I have several manuscripts on my computer that I'm afraid to open to edit. It's been quite a while for some. I usually try to give myself a few weeks, but a few of my MS's slipped through the cracks.

Good luck!

M.J. Fifield said...

I will go over things extensively. I'll re-read the entire thing because chances are, I forgot where I left off and what I had planned to do there.

Heather M. Gardner said...

I would have to start over reading from the beginning. But, that's just me.

I hope it turns out the way you want! Best of luck!


Tammy Theriault said...

me too!!! i haven't edited mine in months. but i have been busy beta reading so i figured it was ok to hold off. but what i did do, was i just thumbed through to the middle of the story, read a few lines, and it totally suckered me back in and now i can't wait to go back to it! try that!

Simon Kewin said...

I think just diving in is a great approach. It's so easy to feel intimidated by the need to be entertaining and dazzling. Just write: you can tidy it up later...

Jemi Fraser said...

It can be so hard & so exciting to jump back into a story. I tend to either re-read the last chapter or re-read the entire thing --- depending on why I stopped in the first place. If it was just life I do a chapter to get back in the voice. If I was stuck I do the whole thing to let my subconscious figure it out :) Have fun!!

cleemckenziebooks said...

That's a hard one alright. My only strategy is to print out what I have, find a quiet spot away from desk and read the darned thing from start to end. I have to get the whole concept in my head again before I can dig in and write.

Good luck with this, Eagle.

Charles Gramlich said...

I always have to sit down and carefully reread what I've written, and tweak here and there as a I go along. This lets my mind shift back into that mode.

Jeff Hargett said...

I'm cheering for you from the sidelines. Sometimes life must be dealt with first. Priorities are priorities for a reason. The thing that matters is that you came back to the story energized and ready to go.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi GE .. welcome back and good luck with settling in to your novel .. the words will come and the story will unfold .. cheers Hilary

Deniz Bevan said...

I would do the same as you - jump in and don't look back. Especially if the characters are still familiar.
Hope you're having a great time drafting!

The Golden Eagle said...

Andrew: That's my impulse, actually. But I'm afraid I'll get hopelessly bogged down in edits if I start.

Sandy: I have an entire folder call "Unfinished Novels", too. :P


J.L.: It's been a few months since I last worked on the story. I think I can pick up where I left off with enough efficacy, though.

Maurice: Yeah. I need to be more consistent about things.

JeffO: Thank you! :)

Suzanne: I'm hoping starting fresh will do something to the story.

Mshatch: I'm trying to avoid that by jumping right back in; the urge to edit is strong, though.

Old Kitty: Thank you!

My inner editor can be noisy as well. I can usually tamp it down, though.

Alex: I might go over some material; but I'm going to try to avoid editing at all costs. It'll probably turn into a feedback loop if I try fixing anything.

Susan: Thanks!

Mary: I admire your persistence! I think my impulse would be to give up the system after a few weeks.

Pat: I'm hoping my plot synopsis will help; it details a lot of what happened in what I wrote previously, if not to a T.

Liz: That's a clever idea. I'd never thought of leaving myself those kind of notes.

Trisha: LOL. It's funny how you can look at something at think "I came up with that?!"

I may end up doing some rereading; just hoping I can resist editing.

Jan: Thank you!

Krista: I have lots of projects that have faded into the background, unfinished and collecting dust.

Thank you.

M.J.: I remember what was happening; it's just I worry about recovering the right tone of that part of the novel, even though I know things like that can be fixed later on.

Heather: Thank you! :)

Tammy: I'm glad your story pulled you in again. I love it when something I'm working on does that.

Simon: Thank goodness for revision, eh?

Jemi: Thanks! I think I will enjoy writing the rest of my story.

Lee: Thanks. I appreciate the support. :)

Charles: A lot of people seem to do it that way!

Jeff: Thank you. And I am excited--at the very least, just to finish it!

Hilary: Thanks!

Deniz: Yeah, the characters are still fairly distinct in my mind. I just hope I'm remembering them correctly.

Denise Covey said...

Hey Golden you might find my post useful...all along the lines you mention. It's good to let that ms alone for awhile...but not too long.


Michael Di Gesu said...

Hi, Golden,

Congrats on getting back to work.

I JUMP right in. Even if I've left something for several months.... It works for me.

Mark Means said...

I tend to re-read, then try to jump back in,but I wouldn't recommend that to everyone.

Sometimes, it's just as well to jump in with both feet and get things done, NaNo style! Then, you can go back and edit.

Good luck with your project! :)

Stephen Tremp said...

I always do a quick read through, at least of the section I go back to. Its important to take bit of time and catch yourself up on the story again, even though you are the author.

Carol Riggs said...

Is IS rather difficult sometimes to get back into a novel you've been away from for a while. I usually begin by re-reading to help immerse me back into things. I just got back to my WIP last month after having been away from it for like SIX months, and it was a big tangle, 2/3 done. Had to straighten out the knots before I could continue. Ugh, not fun. But now I'm done!

Good luck with yours!!

Theresa Milstein said...

I don't leave writing anymore. It was too hard during those droughts. I worried I wouldn't know how to write when I returned. After a long break, it motivated me to start a group to keep me accountable. In the last 18 months, I've written all but maybe 40 days in total.

shelly said...

I barrel through my projects. Its too hard to pick up where you left off.

Good luck.

Hugs and chocolate,

laughingwolf said...

how to tackle it will all come back as you begin again...

wrote my screenplay around 1992... attempting to novelize it, 2013... recall the tale, but entire thing is on my emac... also have it on a 3.25 inch floppy, somewhere... the emac is the only computer i own that can read it, all i need do is find that floppy! ;) lol

somewhere, also have at least one hard copy i printed out back in 1992....

DWei said...

I just jump right back into it as soon as possible. The longer you let things stagnant, the worse it gets.

Anonymous said...

When I return to a project after a long (or short) break I reread everything at least once, until I'm immersed in the story world.

Taking time away from a project isn't always a bad thing - especially if you were working on it daily, and for an extended period of time. Sometimes stepping away gives you a fresh perspective when you return, or at least it reignites the creative engine.

Good luck with your story!

The Pedestrian Writer

Michael Offutt, "Johnny on the Spot" said...

It's very hard. I suppose there's nothing to do but just buckle down and write.

Lynda R Young said...

yep, that's a good plan. I seem to write better overall when I do that and it makes it easier to get back into the rhythm after a break.

The Golden Eagle said...

Denise: I'll have to check out your post, then!

Michael: Thank you. :)

Mark: Thanks! I've actually signed up for Camp NaNo; not sure if I'll reach my goal or if it will even help, but I won't complain if I do/it does.

Stephen: It's funny how much you forget, even as the creator!

Carol: Wow, that sounds similar to my project; I also wrote a lot before picking the project back up again.


Theresa: That's amazing! :) Congrats on writing so consistently.

Shelly: I tend to ram through drafts just to get them done; but surgery a few months ago set me off and I didn't bother to start again soon enough.

Laughingwolf: Hope you find that floppy disc! Or the hard copy. At least you remember the story, though, right?

DWei: True.

Chris: Thank you!

Michael: Yup. I read an IWSG post were the blogger's advice was merely "write."

Lynda: Agreed!

Paul Tobin said...

I find that if I leave a story then go back to it the feel is different. Nothing wrong with that-just is. Good luck with the novel. I just try not to be hard on myself and not worry about when I do things-I tell myself that it is the right time.