There are any number of things that might take you away from writing your novel. Holidays, family obligations, illness, even a busy work day – they can get you out of your writer’s headspace. Once you’ve lost that thread completely, it’s tough to start weaving the novel’s spell again.
I’m a true believer in the importance of momentum in writing. An object in motion and all that. Come to a standstill and you have to get the ball rolling all over again. It’s doable, but it’s much easier if you keep some forward motion during your exile.
Here are some of my fave ways to keep that ball rolling:
Notebook: Get ahold of a notebook, any size or form that suits. Laptop, iPhone, memo pad, you get the idea. Note down any idea for your novel before it gets away. Can you find ten minutes to brainstorm on your plot? Grab the notebook. Be creative. If the only time you have to think duringthe week is your commute, consider a voice activated microcassette recorder. Open a blank document at work and make notes, then print before you leave. Whatever works. Seize your ideas so they don’t escape!
Character Interviews: Stuck somewhere with nothing to do? Get to know your characters even better. Interview them as Tina Morgan suggests. Perhaps you’ve already done some of this? Try asking your characters off the wall questions. “What would you do if you were stuck like I am right now?” is a good start. Getting your characters down is a great way to keep their voices distinct. Avoid character drift.
Rewrite: There’s no rule that you must pick up where you left off writing your novel. Pick a familiar scene and write it all over again. I like to work with the all-important first pages. Is it better or worse? In the long run, it doesn’t matter. You’ve kept up the momentum.
Timeline: Get organized! Refresh your story by creating a timeline. You may have already written one for your novel. Do you know the plot well enough to recreate it? Perhaps as you diagram your novel’s timeline, you’ll surprise yourself. A new twist or turn? A better plot device? Timelines are great for getting a view of how the pieces fit together.
Read: Be inspired! Read an old favorite as a writer, not as a reader. Make note of a clever turn of phrase, a character description. Let them get you excited about creating your own.
Here’s what it comes down to: if you have time to wish you could work on your novel, you have time to keep up your momentum. You don’t have to reinvent the wheel. Just keep it rolling!