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9 ways to reclaim your writing groove

Here are some tips to reclaim your writing groove and get back into that writer’s seat

At one point you fell in love with your characters. They lived in your head, and you knew exactly what was going to happen in your novel. You could see your characters in vivid detail: what they wore, the way the sun fell as they ate at a picnic, could picture the darkness of a room at night with them, only a paraffin lamp to light the way.

But something happened. Perhaps life happened: you had a baby, were made redundant or had an unexpected illness. While your characters still move around in your mind, the colours are a bit more pastel now, even, dare we say, sepia. Maybe you haven’t written anything in a while, whether fiction or any other kind of writing. You might not even be feeling like much of a writer.

You have your doubts: will this work as a novel? How to return to the characters and the story that once gripped you? Should you?

Here are some tips to reclaim your writing groove and get back into that writer’s seat.

Firstly, if you already have a work in progress, and want to make progress on it, open up your file or folder and go through it. You might be pleasantly surprised at the writing you find there, and be immediately inspired to get back into the rhythm of the story.

Or not.

And that’s okay too. So let’s look at some other options.

Are you still gripped by the story, but feel that the reason you lost interest is that it came to a halt and you’re not sure how to kickstart it?

Don’t carry on from where you left off. Leave that chapter or place, and jump in somewhere else. After you are writing a first draft here. You can go back and revise and edit. Simply leap into a scene that is burning furiously in your mind, and start again from that point.

But, if you’re no longer interested in those characters or that story, you can let it go. No doubt you learned a lot while writing it. Mourn the loss, and move on.

Let’s look at other ways of reclaiming your writing groove.

1. Set a routine

Find a time and a place that works for you. Novelist Craig Higginson carves time out of a busy day involving a fulltime job and a family, and spends 45 minutes a day writing. Remember that while you may long for a day or more to just sit and write, that might be unrealistic.

The novelist PD James started writing on trains as that was all the time she had. She had two young children, a demanding job and a husband who had been hospitalized. So she wrote in that time.

Some writers use their lunch hours at work to fit in their daily hours.

The important thing is to find a space and time that work for you, whatever that might be.

We have some nifty tips on how to get inspired to write – from starting small to creating realistic attainable goals.

2. Make a date with your writing

Light the scented candles or sticks of incense. Create a play list for your writing stints. Have a cappuccino or make a fragrant herbal tea. The important thing is not only that you show up, but that you make the commitment to show up and make showing up something to look forward to. Try to make this time non-negotiable. Put it in your diary.

Decide how long your date is going to last, whether it’s 30 minutes or an hour or even a morning, this time is yours.

A way to get to know your characters better. Interview your characters.

3. Interview your characters

Perhaps you are in the middle of a WIP but you’ve stalled. You want to continue, but you just can’t see the way forward. I find this a fun exercise – which you might want to do anyway, whether you are stuck or not.

Interview your characters. Sit them down, what do they want to say to you about their life stories, or their worlds? What are they wearing? What do they do every day? What’s a regular day like for them? Interview them in a timeframe after the events of your book too. Looking back over their lives ask them if they regret anything.

Or shake it all up. If you’ve been writing in the past tense, write a chapter in the present and see how that changes things. Cut a character, add a character, change a character’s sex, see how these changes can transform your writing.

4. Writing prompts

If you’re still stuck, with either your WIP or with finding a topic you want to pursue, try some writing prompts. Consider linking those writing prompts to your work or the idea you have. Here’ some inspiration on finding writing prompts.

For example one prompt suggests you write a story or poem based on one of the biggest mistakes you’ve ever made, and what the consequences taught you.

Flip this around. What was one of the biggest mistakes your character experienced, what did it teach them? See if this can form part of your story.

Use Now Novel’s storyboard to generate prompts and learn how to use them.

Have some more fun with generating writing prompts. You can choose from a massive section of genres.


Stay accountable, in a structured program with writing sprints, coach Q&As, webinars and feedback in an intimate writing group.

Now Novel group coaching

5. Journal your way into creativity

You could consider keeping a journal. Write about your own life. Write about the ‘characters’ that people your life. If you don’t want to keep a personal journal, write a journal based on your characters, write it from their point of view. This doesn’t have to be perfect writing or even good writing – this is just to get the creative, writing juices flowing.

You could also consider doing morning pages as devised by Julia Cameron in her book, The Artist’s Way: A Spiritual Path to Higher Creativity (1992). She suggests writing three or so pages of stream of consciousness, just letting your thoughts go anywhere, and says that they are not ‘high art’. Again, the goal is to get your hand moving across the page (or the keyboard).

Julia Cameron says to take yourself on an Artist Date

6. Take yourself on an Artist Date

This idea is also from Julia Cameron who writes about taking yourself on an artist’s date in her book, The Artist’s Way. Writing on Lithub Cameron writes:

Executed solo, the Artist Date is a special time during which your artist is the focus of your attention. “On Friday, I’m taking my artist to a meal out in Little Italy.”

Going for a meal is one idea for a date. Other ideas include going to see a special movie on your own; taking a long walk in a botanical garden, taking yourself to a bookstore to buy a beautiful journal, attending a play. You might even want to mix it up, and go volunteering somewhere.

7. Connect with the bookish community

Connect with the bookish community in many different ways. You’ll find that simply listening to authors will inspire you in turn.

Attend book launches and readings. Hearing the journeys other writers have made to publication can be eye-opening and inspiring. Keep a look out for literary festivals – a few days of non-stop talk on all things book-related will leave you with a bookish buzz.

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Attend book launches and readings. Hearing the journeys other writers have made to publication can be eye-opening and inspiring. Keep a look out for literary festivals – a few days of non-stop talk on all things book-related will leave you with a bookish buzz.

Listen to writing-related podcasts. There are so many out there, that you’re sure to pick up some enthusiasm and ideas from listening. I’ve recently started listening to The Hidden Lives of Writers, hosted by writers Gail Schimmel and Fiona Snyckers and have found writing advice and a new sense of enthusiasm for my own writing. I’ve also just started tuning in to Jeremy Besetti’s travel and book podcast Travel Writing World, and am raring to go traveling somewhere so I can write about it!

Attend online writers’ events and workshops, especially if you’re from a small town and can’t attend in-person. One such site to bookmark is Authors Publish who regularly host seminars with writers.

Now Novel has a host of webinars online too, ranging from topics such as what writers can learn from K-dramas to creating characters to self-publishing, among others.

8. Get outside of your genre

You might also want to consider writing something outside of your genre if you find you’re in a fiction writing slump. If you’re a fantasy writer, try writing a historical mystery. Try your hand at a short story. Look at writing non-fiction too.

Consider writing non-fiction, too. For example The New York Times run weekly ‘Modern Love’ columns. According to their website they seek:

The editors of Modern Love are interested in receiving deeply personal essays about contemporary relationships, marriage, dating, parenthood…any subject that might reasonably fit under the heading “Modern Love.” Ideally, essays should spring from some central dilemma the writer has faced in his or her life. It helps if the situation has a contemporary edge, though this is not essential. Most important is that the writing be emotionally honest and the story be freshly and compellingly told.

Have a look at their guidelines.

Or maybe you’d like to try your hand at submitting to the popular Chicken Soup for the Soul series. They publish inspirational true stories, and you might find it fun and challenging to write for them. Here are their guidelines.

9 ways to reclaim your writing groove

9. What’s the real reason you’re not writing?

Lastly, what’s the real reason you’re not writing? Do you have imposter syndrome? Do you feel you don’t deserve to be writing? Journaling about what prevents you from writing means you can gain new insights into these psychological blocks, and perhaps find a way through. You may be suffering from depression, and this can also play a role in stopping you from starting. It’s helpful to look at your inner thoughts and what you are saying to yourself. It could be that you believe that what you are writing will never find a publisher, and so why bother. Write through those thoughts, and write anyway. Think of the publishing journey only after you have written, and try not to ‘re-judge’ the merits of what you are writing.

I am so glad I signed up for the Now Novel Group Coaching program. The group offers accountability, support from other writers, informative webinars, and knowledgeable coaches. I would highly recommend Now Novel to any writer. – Lorraine

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By Arja Salafranca

Arja Salafranca has published a collection of short stories, three collections of poetry and has edited anthologies of prose. She holds an MA in Creative Writing from the University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg

2 replies on “9 ways to reclaim your writing groove”

Good and mobilizing article! I appreciate and stick to an active life position like “The rolling stone gathers no moss” or “Wanna something?Start doing something!” The results will be for sure. To avoid feeling frustration resulting from failed expectations one should have a good sense of humour and critical attitude towards oneself without raising the bar too high. In addition I’d like to highlight the significance of supportive environment. It’s so cool if you have someone who’s happy to share with you your writing adventures.)

Dear Elena,

Thanks so much for your comments. It’s good to hear that.

You make an important point — about how important it is to have a supportive family, friends or a romantic partner. It’s important that they also respect your writing and your ‘writing space’. And a sense of humour is vital! 😀

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