With the busy holidays straight ahead, every writer deals with Novel Interruptus.
I’m doing quite a bit of DIY indie publishing which is hard to balance with writing time. And I've changed computer systems (a time-sucker for a writer), the usual family stuff, and now facing the upcoming holidays. I’m just now back into a story that has waited for months. In the last few days, I’ve picked up the story line and have been burning my fingertips on the keyboard. It feels so good.
I’ve written other things in the months between when I had to stop this story and when it started pulsing again. (Yes, I believe that a story has a heartbeat/a pulse, when it starts to come together as a whole, all parts moving like one body.)
Novel Interruptus is just what it sounds like: A Novel Interrupted. For reasons of everything, sometimes it’s months before a writer can get back into a book, sometimes only days. Getting back into that book can be treacherous, the story threads unraveled and forgotten. Shutter. A cold story, dead. Two more shutters.
Caught in a time warp of where the story (and the writer) was when interrupted, and yanking that story back into the creative mind takes some doing. Here are my suggestions and I hope you’ll add your own in the comment sections. The following deals only with the actual writing of the story, not plotting, editing the total mss, etc.:
1. Do NOT, repeat do not, even consider the WB words. You know what they are, but don’t say them aloud. They will curse you, bite you in your behind. This is why: Energy spent on thinking the oh-no WB words prevents your creative mind from getting back into the mode. Let’s just all it mode, okay? Don’t say it, don’t think it. Period.
2. If the story is not just leaping back into you after an interruption, consider it is not the right time for it to activate. You may be on overload from too much stress/emotion or any other story is due at the publishers, etc. How much can one mind hold, anyway?
3. If 2.) is the case, get away from the story. Go for a drive, do anything but sit there and hit your head against the wall. Go to a writer’s meeting, work on the business side of it. I get more story activity from going for a long drive—not one that I must concentrate on heavy traffic, but an open road. That settles in plot points or decisions, or to simply leave the story until it’s ready to pop out. Writing a book is a gestation period anyway, where the characters grow within the story, merging into the other characters, twisting, etc. So give the story time to be born, if you will.
4. Editing what is already written helps me. Or editing anything that might not be that particular story.
5. Writing articles, blogs, maybe a short story, are productive stuff, like a bank savings account. They and busy work free up time for when the story is ready to bloom and writing time/energy for those peripherals is scarce.
6. If you have a chance before Novel Interruptus first hits, do what you can to prep for the next scene or the story line. Sometimes that paragraph or so will launch you back into the story. I do that in just from day to day writing.
7. As you’re writing, prepare for potential interruption. Take notes on the characters that just sprang to life, ideas for the twists, etc.
8. To jumpstart, after the time lag when you last wrote the story, you could backboard your story with someone who is linked into your creative side.
9. Working on the story outline or plot sometimes helps. In changing from a PC to Mac systems, I had to redo my plotting software. That was a first, but it did jumpstart the story after a dry spell of doing almost everything else but writing it.
10. Write a short story about something inside the story, i.e. the dog, a minor character, etc. You never know—you might be able to use it as promo.
In short, do anything but dwell on No. 1: the infamous WB words.