How to Start Writing Again

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Anyone who’s ever tried to crack the nut of writing fiction for profit (i.e., as a career) has probably started and stopped more than once. For me, the usual stuff has gotten “in the way.” You know, life. Planning a wedding, moving, and caring for a newborn has derailed me. Other things have made me pause too. Frustration with not moving forward in publishing when and how I wanted has gotten me down, as has being paralyzed about what to do next. If you also had life happen or a career setback or change and are looking to start writing again, read on! Maybe you’ll pick up some tips or at least know that you’re not alone.

The Many Stages of a Comeback

If you stopped writing and are ready to begin again, you might feel extra energized. Maybe you’re writing because you have a specific story in mind. If so—go for it! You know by now that you have to capitalize on momentum. If you’re starting because you realize that you just aren’t “you” without writing, but aren’t sure what to write, start slow. Can you do a blog post? An article? A short story? If you’re not ready to jump in the deep end, don’t. Start where you are.

Make a Plan for Writing

Once you have a chance to get your writer’s fingers under you, now is the time to make a plan. Do you want to submit a short story for publication? Do you want to try again with a novel? If it’s the latter, take time to think about what stopped you last time. Was it that you had a bunch of great starts but no finish? If you did finish and submitted it for publication only to strike out, can you look at your work with fresh eyes? Was it just a wrong time/wrong place situation? Or is it that your craft could improve? Rereading prior work with distance might help you see weak points.

On the other hand, maybe you’re fired up and ready to work on the next novel. Like I said earlier, if this is the case: go for it! My one word of caution is to realize that while you probably learned a lot from your earlier foray into writing, you probably still have much to learn this time too. Applying lessons and being open to continuing to tweak and learn will serve you well.

Make a Plan for Publication

Writing for its own sake is worthwhile. By no means do you have to write with the intent of selling. It won’t improve the quality or make your time better spent. Writers write, and you are a writer! However, if you do want to sell your work, I think it’s useful to make a plan for publication. Obviously if you’re going the traditional route, a good bit of it is out of your hands. Craft counts, of course, as does having the right story and the right time. Are you interested in self-publishing? Have you done some research to understand the choices available? Do you want to post your work on a platform like Inkitt? Are you ready to do the work to promote your work and interact with your audience? If you have a plan in place, it will help you to maximize your reach. Whatever your path, welcome back!

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About Author

Mary is a young adult writer and archaeologist. By day she teaches at a local college, and by night she writes about the adventures of adolescence.


  1. Procrastination is my problem. When I was working (as a writer) I had constant deadlines to meet, and so, I produced. Now that I am retired, and working (or trying to work) on a novel, I find my life is a series of distractions. Anything is enough to distract me – for example, responding to this survey. I’ve tried setting deadlines for myself, but it doesn’t work because I know they aren’t REAL deadlines. Just make-believe. How can I convince myself that I really have to get to work on that story…..

    • I hear ya on procrastination! I also know what you mean about make-believe deadlines. For me, once I get into the story and I know where I want it to go, I crave working on it. Hopefully that happens for you!

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