It occurred to me that I haven't blogged about writing in a while, so I thought I'd talk about something that I've realized of late: taking breaks from writing can spell doom. For me, at least. Taking a day off or even two usually isn't too bad, but any time that I take an extended break from from a project, it takes a correspondingly long time to get back into it.
Take my novel, for instance. I paused it when we took our vacation to Vegas (I'd intended to write on the road, but the fan in my laptop had other plans so the vacation became writing-free.) Then when I got back I worked on a rewrite of Bleeders and working through the critiques I got for The Weatherman.
I only just restarted the novel last night, and for about 45 minutes it was like pulling teeth. I sat at my desk, wrote a paragraph, and stared at the screen. I looked about my office, allowing myself to get distracted by the items on the wall. I decided that I needed to decide who a minor character was before I could move on, but then I went back to staring at the screen again. I was tempted to check my email but mentally yelled at myself to focus.
Finally, I mentally yelled at myself again, telling myself to just START. So I did. And then, finally, it came back to me. I regained the momentum that I feared I'd lost. I only wrote about 600 words (it was already late) but I came to a good stopping point and at least felt that I was back in the story.
This is not the first time something like this has happened to me. Any time that I restart a project after taking more than three days off, I usually go through some variation of the "stare at the screen without writing or even thinking much of anything" routine. It can be very tempting to say "this project has lost its flair, I should just start something new." I seldom give into the temptation, but I can go through a few awkward hours before I reclaim the magic of a piece.
Because I just realized this relationship, I've come to the conclusion that the best way to deal with it is to not pause a project in the first place. Of course, despite my commitment to make this into my first year as a dedicated writer, and despite my blogging to this effect, I'm not infallible. I often allow life to distract me and say "I'll just catch up later." But I'm hoping that this newfound realization--that I can cut off some of the difficult writing moments--might help keep me motivated to do better in the future.