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Get Back on the Horse

Back in November I took a break from writing. And reading. And generally enjoying the written in it's varied forms. I didn't realize how burned out I was in a lot of ways until I kept trying to come back and hitting a brick wall (something I've talked about before). But I'm good now! And I'm back to writing and being excited about it. But I seem to have unlearned a lot of the skills that made writing every day, or every few days at least, an attainable goal. So I've gone through some of my old posts and thought over some of the things I've been telling myself to get myself back in the groove again.

  1. Don't be afraid to be a novice.This seems silly! But I've written four complete manuscripts, and I feel all of a sudden as if I don't know how to do it anymore. Yesterday, I googled 'the diagram of a plot' charts. I have a habit of marking certain milestones in my life as 'place I will never have to visit again' and struggling with how to write a book, at least in structure, was definitely one of them. I'm learning how silly that is. Don't be afraid to go back to square one. Google that shit. Be okay with feeling like it's day one again and you have no idea what you're doing. 
  2. Set manageable goals! It used to be that I could turn out 5,000 words in a day. I don't know if it's my advancing age (haha) or that I'm growing as a writer and thinking more than spitting out words but. That sort of wordage in an eight hour period is no longer possible for me. Not without crying a lot (that's happened) and then being burned out for a week after. Learn to be okay with the way your writing shifts. What was possible for one book at one time may not be possible for another. 
  3. Be alright with failure! I know that's a hard thing to stomach but sometimes you are just not going to write 500 words. Don't make yourself feel like you need to make up the difference the next day. I know Scrivener's word count goal things says you should, but really don't feel like you have to. Fuck that guy.
  4. Make a schedule! By that I don't mean schedule word count. I mean set aside blocks of time, try not to let them be interrupted (this isn't always feasible but!). If you have a whole day to write, block out what parts of those day you will use, put a limit on it. I don't always stick to schedules, but having them there gives me structure. I know exactly how many hours I can afford, what other things I need to do that day, and how much time I have to hit word count. Writing is your job, make sure to treat it like one!
What do you do to put your writing self back together?
Somaiya Daud

Somaiya Daud received her BA and MA from a university in DC in English. She is currently working on her PhD. When not writing or studying, she spends too much time on the internet yelling about comics and robots. Her first novel, Mirage, is coming 2017 from Flatiron Books.

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  1. First, I fired the cat. Then I tried to remember everything I'd forgotten before I forgot to remember it, and started writing. That was about a year and a half ago. Someone convinced me to fix my previous (4 year old) manuscript. That wasted 4 months. Then I had a couple of false starts (I blame the cat, who filed a wrongful termination suite). Finally, around January of this year, it all came home. I nailed down a plot and stuck with it. I finished it recently and am in draft mode. Then I realized YA and MG are my favorites, so I'm now working on my first YA, soon to be followed by my first MG. And that's my plan. One in edit mode, one in write like mad mode, and one in outline mode. You see, if you stop to think about it too long, you'll realize this is all a major waste of time and go out and adopt a cat or whatever. So go the other extreme and see if you can crank out 6 a year. They have to get better, right? And I just discovered that Gary Schmidt works on 3 at a time and he's a part-timer. No idea if he has a cat.


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