No matter how good you get at scheduling regular writing, sometimes you just stop. Maybe you just miss a week. Maybe you miss several weeks. It happens. There are lots of different specific reasons but it happens to everyone sometimes.
Do not make things worse by berating yourself for having stopped.
I can guarantee that you didn’t stop writing for trivial reasons. You are not lazy. You have a lot of demands on your time and energy. Sometimes there is just too much going on and writing is the thing that gets dropped.
Or, maybe the thing you’ve been writing is emotionally difficult in some way. There are times when it is worth making yourself sit down and push through whatever that difficulty is. And there are times when you need to focus your energies elsewhere for a while so you can return to it in a different emotional place or with more emotional resources.
The important thing is to start writing again
Step 1: Forgive yourself for not writing for however long it was.
Step 2: Pick one project. Go with the one you most want to pick. Trust your intuition.
Step 3: Refamiliarize yourself with it, making notes as you go along.
About those notes…
Include the good stuff. You want marginal notes that say things like “Great idea!” and “Nice sentence construction!” and even “Wow! I seem to know what I’m talking about here.” You’ll also have things like “add x” or “check the article by y for further insight” or whatever.
Beware! Your Gremlins may try to get in on the commenting act. You will recognize them because they tend to be snide or downright mean. They might be picky about little stuff, completely missing the big picture. Arguing with (or even listening to) Gremlins really isn’t the best use of your time.
If you notice before you write them down, you can just ignore them. Or, you can delete them once you recognize them as Gremlin comments. Or (and ONLY do this if it helps), you can put them on a Gremlin colouring page or in a separate document.
Sometimes, the Gremlin comments have a kernel of truth in them but are worded unhelpfully. If this is the case, you can put them in a Gremlin specific colour as a reminder that these are not necessarily true and might need rewording to something more helpful.
Lower your expectations
I know you’ve not been writing and maybe you feel like you are behind. Panicking isn’t going to help. Set yourself up for success.
Your goal for your first session back is to have a sense of what this project needs and maybe what you want to do next with it.
Your next goal is to keep turning up. Even if it doesn’t feel like you are devoting enough time to writing. Keep devoting some time to writing (even if it’s only 15 minutes a day).
Most importantly, use the time and energy you do have to focus on what’s going well and keeping it moving forward.
Would you benefit from some support?
As a member of the Academic Writing Studio you would have resources to support you in keeping your commitment to write regularly, and to get back to writing regularly whenever you stop for any reason.
A Meeting With Your Writing is a synchronous event that guarantees you 90 minutes of writing in virtual community. One of the great things about A Meeting With Your Writing is that it’s there when you come back. You can just turn up.
You would also be able to talk through whatever is keeping you stuck with me either during A Meeting With Your Writing, in a Monthly Studio Call, or in the members only online forum.
You can also park your Gremlins in the Gremlin Cafe, download the Jo on Tap recordings, and DIY A Meeting With Your Writing at whatever time of day works for you right now.
Enjoy your writing!
A version of this post appeared in the Academic Writing Studio newsletter, March 31, 2017.