Writing: getting started once you’ve stalled…

A few weeks back, I put up a jolly post about how I was going to embark on a novella, a sequel to my first novel, You Think You Know Me.

I’ve begun a Cambridge-based mystery series since completing my debut. I find the city fascinating; it’s such a place of contrasts. But, having taken a break, I was looking forward to revisiting Anna, and some of the characters from the first book. I duly got stuck in and, at first, things seemed to go swimmingly…

I got taken up by the atmosphere at the start of the story. I love London, and the fact that I’m slightly distanced from it now seems to have increased its hold on me. I set up the opening scene on a rainy night in March, on the streets of Soho. Looking through a pub window, Anna witnesses something that draws her into the middle of a deadly drama…

Before long I’d written ten thousand words, and the first murder was safely in the bag… I thought I’d probably get the initial draft finished in no time, and then… Then the Chase household fell prey to the lurgy that seems to be sweeping the country. Only a virus, but the sort that makes you feel pretty dreadful for three weeks or so.

I couldn’t concentrate on anything, and stopped completely. Now, I’m finding it harder to re-start than I did to begin, which seems weird.

Last weekend, I did all the things you’re meant to do: I closed Outlook, Twitter and Facebook (my computer can never cope with all three at once, anyway), and shut myself away. Cassandra, the heroine in I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith, wants to be a writer. She sits in the kitchen sink, on the principle that unusual settings spark inspiration. Our kitchen sink is from IKEA, and although it has many admirable features, I don’t think taking my weight is probably one of them. It’s a bit less exciting, but since I normally work at the dining room table I went and sat in… the sitting room. (There’s no stopping me when I get these crazy ideas in my head and, unusually, there was no one in there.)

Added cake... almost as good as sitting in a sink.
Added cake… almost as good as sitting in a sink.

I made up my mind I wouldn’t shift until I’d got back into the zone. I re-read what I’d already written, then read my notes for the rest of the book which seemed to make no sense whatsoever. A whole different set of thoughts came to me about what should happen next, so I wrote them down instead.

I did feel much better by the end of it, and more in control.

And then the week came round again… DH went away on a work trip, and I had work, evening meetings, and people to stay…

OK, so I think I may need to go and ‘sit in the sitting room’ again this weekend. But then I’m determined I’ll be back on track… Last time what worked was making sure I wrote something every day, even if it was only a sentence before bed. I’m going to try that again. With added cake.

Right, it’s nearly 10pm. Time to make good…

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10 thoughts on “Writing: getting started once you’ve stalled…

  1. Best of luck getting back into your writing Clare! I’ve just written a similar post, after having a few weeks without writing much. I agree that sometimes just writing a bit, even for five minutes makes you want to return the next day, if you haven’t written for a while. Sometimes I set the timer on my phone and do this, and find myself re-setting the timer in the end. I love the book, I Capture the Castle. Writing in different places does help, I go to cafes (especially the ones with good cake;-)) quite a lot as being in the house can be distracting if there is loads of tidying up and cleaning to do!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks so much, Anita! I’ve just read your post too and left a comment. How funny that we’re both in the same boat at just the same time! I like the idea of going to cafes. It’s not something I’ve tried yet, but I can definitely see the advantages (both in terms of cake and removal from the household chores)!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. National Trust cafes do particularly good cake, one near me has started making an orange and ginger cake with buttercream icing in the middle-yum! I take headphones for cafes for when they’re extra noisy, which seems to work (have also started to wear headphones at home sometimes when working ;-))-thanks for your comment on my blog!

        Liked by 1 person

  2. That trying-to-get-started-after-a-break thing is a real pain, isn’t it? I’ve got to do it on Tuesday, when it will be over 2 weeks since I looked at my new one (been away, had loads of stuff to catch up on). The way I always do it is to make a date for the re-start and stick to it, and start by reading from the beginning everything I’ve written so far – or at least the most recentl 15K words. Then, you often find you simply carry on without noticing….. Good luck!

    Liked by 1 person

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