We’ve all been there; life gets crazy and an embarrassing amount of time passes between our present moment and when last we were crafting our “current” work in progress. A week, a month, a year: all of it can feel like it’s an eternity since we last sat down to write our story.
This summer my wife and I had an intercontinental move and now, as the dust is settling, it has been over eight weeks since the last time I wrote/edited/hung out with my characters. I have been here before. Many people say that if you cannot write each day, to at least read over what you have written to keep it fresh in your mind. By now, I am way past that. So what do I do? How do I get back into writing and getting reacquainted with my characters and where the story was when I disappeared?
Perhaps you can dive right back into the midst of everything. Personally, I cannot jump straight into my story. I have to get my feet wet and wade in one step at a time. But this time does not need to be wasted.
I have found these times of warming back up to writing are great opportunities for writing short stories, flash fiction, blog posts (like this one) or general world building.
Maybe my main character is a bit shy or feels abandoned since I left. Another idea is to “have coffee” with my main characters. I open a word doc, imagine I am at my favorite cafe with my character, and write out a dialogue between us. I try and shoot the breeze with my characters to help them feel comfortable and bring them back to my mind. This conversation is private; I won’t post it (but I would perhaps recycle bits). The purpose is not to write story material but to pick up where I left off.
Here is the list of questions I ask my character while we grab coffee:
Describe the café: what is the décor (colors, style, furniture)? How loud is the room? What are the aromas? Who are the people around us (age, profession) and what are they doing (talking, writing, studying for the MCAT)?
Where do we sit?
What is the character doing? Fidgeting? What are his/her mannerisms?
- What drink does he/she order? What do I order? Does he/she order a pastry?
- Is he/she happy to see me?
- Is he/she mad at me?
- Does he/she feel abandoned?
- How do I explain why I have been gone?
- Is he/she understanding of why I have been busy?
- Did this time away stir up any fears or insecurities in him/her?
- How is he/she feeling now?
- What do we talk about?
- Is he/she talkative, guarded, subdued, snarky, bored, tired, etc?
- How does he/she feel about the story/where we left off?
- Is he/she ready to jump back in, or does he/she need more time (side quest or backstory)?