It’s time to talk about Novel Interruptus. I found this ingenious term on another writing blog and now I can’t remember which one, so if you know, please tell me so I can give the author credit.
Novel Interruptus is the term for the inevitable break in your writing flow during the holidays, which is something I think a lot of us experience. No matter how many years in a row I resolve to wake up early and write before I’m sucked into present wrapping, cookie decorating, or gift returning, I never do it. The holidays are just too filled with people and activities for me to get much time to myself.
So! How to get back into that writing groove you were in before all the mulled wine and candy canes muddled your brain? Here are the steps I take:
1. Reread I normally advise against too much rereading of what you’ve already written–before you know it, you get sucked into your beautiful prose and you’re spending your precious writing time reading instead of writing. But if it’s been a few days (or a week) since you’ve so much as glanced at your manuscript, you need to read through at least the part you were working on to get back into the mindset of your setting and characters. I’ve also found a quick reread of the beginning and any key scenes helps, too.
2. You don’t have to pick up where you left off Most likely, you stopped mid-scene or chapter. It can be hard to get back into the exact mindset you were in at that point–so don’t! Pick up the story again at whatever point feels natural for you.
3. Look through your notes Not every single one you’ve ever taken, but I’ve found the ones I’ve jotted down recently to be the most helpful. Even if I’m not working on my novel constantly during the holidays, I am thinking about it (and you should be too). In between present-opening, I’ll be jotting down thoughts or bits of dialogue in the notes section of my phone. These notes help immensely when starting back up again.
4. Pick a section and just dive in! I write in a somewhat roundabout fashion–thank God for computers, I don’t know how people write longhand–so after taking the above steps, I just start writing again. Don’t think too hard or long about it–time you spend thinking is time you don’t spend writing, after all.
5. Don’t feel guilty There are probably people out there who’d advise you to skip family time in lieu of writing. I am not one of them. Spending time with the people you care about is more important than your burgeoning writing career. Don’t feel bad about that.
6. Stick to your New Year’s Writing Resolutions (provided they were measurable and manageable) For me, I’ve upped my writing word count goals to 11,000 words per week. I’ve found that a weekly schedule works better than a daily schedule, since there are inevitable days when I’m swamped at work and I’ll fall behind, but that just means I have Saturday and Sunday to devote to several-hour writing frenzies. I’m happy to report that 2 weeks into 2015, I’ve exceeded my writing word count goals each and every week!
Does anyone else have any tips for dealing with Novel Interruptus? I’d love to hear them!