Hiatus is the word I’d use to describe what the past few months of my life have been like. Hiatus from Facebook and social media, hiatus from really caring and nurturing myself and my own needs, hiatus from reading, and yes, even writing. I took a mental vacation of sorts. Life lacked inspiration, and I felt no need to be inspired. Some would call this depression; I call it auto-pilot-post-MFA-relaxation-mode-for-six-months.
Regardless of what it’s called, I found it harder than ever to jump back on the metaphorical horse after such a long break from writing. What’s a woman to do?
Create an easy-to-follow schedule:
How do you do your best writing? Do you, like me, read for an hour before you write? Do you practice yoga and meditation before jotting down your most important ideas? Try to remember what worked best for you when you were writing before and schedule it into your day. Pick a time of day you dedicate to writing and your pre-writing rituals. Schedule it when you’re at your best. If you’re a bird or something, you probably write best in the morning; if you’re the worm, better stick with the afternoon. Make it a habit again and do it.
Write more than you normally do:
The longer you’ve been without writing, the more time junk has had time to accumulate in your writer brain. In order to get that junk out, write as often and as much as possible. Don’t worry about writing the next best “Howl” right now. Worry about figuring out how to re-find your voice. It’s not like riding a bike, it’s more like physical therapy – find out how your fingers and hands move the pen across the page again.
Don’t edit any poem just yet:
Don’t edit anything until you’ve written a HELL of a lot. And I mean a lot. Just enjoy this grace period you’ve given yourself to get back to it. Just write for the joy, if that’s at all possible. When you’re ready, and you’ll know when you’re ready, go back and look for something salvageable from what you’ve written. But don’t do it in the first few poems you write. Wait maybe 10 or 50 poems later. You know. Whatever feels right for you.
What do you do when you’ve stopped writing for a really long time? How do you get back to it?