Photo by Bruno Nascimento on Unsplash

Getting Back into Writing Shape

The first day back from vacation I’m usually excited on to jump back into my work. The return to routine wraps me up like a cozy blanket and I have new ideas that I’m ready to dig into.

And dig in I do. But I get winded. Fast. My brain doesn’t form sentences like it was pre-break. My body aches from sitting, my arms from typing. Before too long I want to do something else. Anything else.

I run every week and I’m not the first person to notice the many parallels between it and writing. The routine. The rhythm. How doing it on a consistent basis conditions my body as well as my mind. Maintaining a focused headspace means it takes less effort to get going again.

Writing is no different. Daily consistency makes pushing that rock up the hill a little easier. But I need the mental recalibration that comes from not working. From not thinking or writing. Writers need to live their lives, reset their brains. Experience things to write about.

I have an expectation that I’m going to dive back into the work like nothing happened but there’s always a transition period. Usually a day or so but sometimes longer if I haven’t worked or written anything in a bit.

I should know this about myself by now. But instead

With writing, I have this expectation that is more akin to climbing a mountain. I hiked to a certain point, took a break and now I’ll continue toward the summit with the same stamina and drive that got me to this point. This is never the case. And so I beat myself up. Shame myself for not writing more. I forget that writing is difficult, that mountains I may have climbed will only reveal more mountains to conquer.

I’ve tried to bring this technique or thought practice into all areas of my life but it is especially crucial for writing.

It’s okay that I’m not at the level I was when I left off. It’s okay to have an off day, to take a day to get back into the swing of things. That’s no reason not to get started or keep working. It’s no reason to lose focus or drive on my current project. I can bounce to something else if need be.

Because beating myself up does not produce better work. Working through vacation at my normal level doesn’t either.

My best work comes from a combination of playfulness, curiosity, and calm. Having compassion for myself enables all three.

So how is everyone else getting back into the swing of things? Any tips for how you deal with getting back on the horse after a long break?

Andrew writes TV shows, movies, and silly songs for his kids.