Question: I have had a severe hiatus from my writing schedule because of a crisis in my life. What are some best practices to get back on track and get my mind back into the game?



It’s not uncommon for writers to hit serious roadblocks, whether personal or professional, that require them to take a break from writing. Some of these life events may be short and intense while others are long and tiresome. No matter what’s been keeping them from writing, it can be challenging to get back into the right mindset and creative headspace. 

Here are 10 tips for getting back on track with writing after taking some time away:

1. Be gentle with yourself

The most important first step is to avoid beating yourself up for putting your writing aside. This is especially critical if the life event has affected you emotionally, mentally, or physically. Not only is it counterproductive to berate yourself, but it sucks up valuable mental energy that can be used in your writing. Try to minimize the negative voices inside your head and focus on the positives.

If you’ve taken an extended leave from writing, it’s likely that your writing muscles will need to be reconditioned. You may need to ease back into it, so be careful not to burden yourself with ambitious deadlines or unrealistic expectations. 

2. Start with what inspires you mostAfter a writing hiatus, it's important to start with what inspires you most.

If you’re planning to revisit an unfinished manuscript, first read it from the beginning. Fresh eyes will help you see more clearly whether your words are doing what you wanted them to do and, if not, what you need to work on. Rereading will hopefully get you excited about getting back to the project and give you an idea about where to start (or restart).

Don’t try to force yourself to work on something that you’re not into. If you find that your unfinished manuscript no longer speaks to you or excites you, work on something else. Write an essay. Write about writing. Write a poem or a short story. Work on whatever leaves you feeling accomplished and motivated to keep writing.

3. Read your favorite books or authors for further inspiration

Reading is an important educational and inspirational tool for all writers. Sometimes the best way to find writing motivation is to take yourself out of your own work and into someone else’s. Surrounding yourself with creativity can provide that extra push you need. This can even include listening to audiobooks or podcasts. For some, exploring the work of their favorite artists, photographers, or musicians can also be helpful.

4. Put writing time on your calendar and dedicate a space

Writing down your intentions and protecting your writing time can greatly increase your chances of following through. Even if it’s just 15 minutes of solid, undistracted time. Maybe it’s every day, every other day, or just on the weekends. Establishing a routine can go a long way in keeping you focused and helping to prioritize your writing. Find what works and stick to it.

Another way to create positive habits is to dedicate a writing space in your home. Having a comfortable and inviting space that is free from distractions can help you get into the right mindset when you sit down to write.

It's best to set short-term, measurable goals when writing a book.5. Set short-term, achievable goals

Vague, long-term goals like “finish my book” can be overwhelming. It’s best to start by establishing some short-term, measurable goals like finishing a character description, scene, or chapter. Alternatively, if you measure your productivity based on word count, start small with 100 word batches for one week, 300 word batches the next week, and then continue increasing it from there.

You can also do short writing sprints or exercises. Creative writing prompts can be a great way to kick start your writing muscles and creative flow.

6. Find an accountability partner

Writing is a solitary event, but that doesn’t mean you have to experience the journey alone. Developing a support system may help you stay motivated and on track. Family, friends, or peers can remind you of your goals or provide validation on days when your determination is waning. At one time or another, you may need to ask for help. This could be emotional support, inspiration or guidance.

Establish a “go-to” individual (or group of people) that knows about your writing goals, and schedule regular check-ins so that he or she can help hold you accountable. Joining a local or online writers group can be a great way to find this type of support from like-minded individuals.

7. Respect the gush…and the trickle

Even if you were a prolific writer prior to your hiatus, it may take time to get back into a productive writing rhythm. There will be days where the words flow effortlessly, and then days where you can barely squeak out a coherent sentence. The words you get down may not be your best work, but keep moving forward with a plan to revise and edit later.

You also never know when your muse might strike, so keep a journal on hand and be prepared to record ideas when on the go. It’s common to forget moments of inspiration when they hit at inopportune times.

8. Reward yourself for reaching certain milestones

When you feel particularly discouraged, it can be useful to implement incentives. Rewarding yourself when you reach certain goals or when you've pushed past a tough hurdle can give you a tangible reason to continue pushing forward. The reward can be as small as treating yourself to an ice cream when you finish that pesky chapter that’s been plaguing you, or purchasing a book that’s been on your reading list.

9. Revisit why you started writing in the first placeWhen writing a book, it's important to know your "why".

Knowing your “why” is extremely important when working on a piece of writing that you intend to share with the world. There are reasons why you are expressing yourself, your experiences, or your knowledge in written form. Whom are you hoping to entertain, inspire, or inform? How does this creative outlet benefit you now, and what do you hope it will do for you in the future?

The last thing you want is your writing to feel like a chore, so revisit whom you are writing for and why. This will help you stay dedicated to your project and motivated to complete it when feeling overwhelmed.

10. If appropriate, use your writing to channel your feelings

The life event that kept you from writing may be something that you feel compelled to write about in future projects. Stories of real life experiences can affect audiences and readers in ways no other words do, but it’s important to proceed carefully. Your emotions may still be too raw or confusing. Give yourself time to process your feelings and look at things more objectively. If you do plan to write about a personal event or experience, make sure there is a universal theme that will be relatable to readers.

Sometimes there are life events that affect your writing style, tone, or voice. You may need to shift to a different writing project or start something new that better suits you at the time. The important thing is to just keep writing and know that it’s an evolving process.

Photo Credits: Getty Images
hatchakorn Srisook
Parradee Kietsirikul


  • Your tips are not just helpful but also incredibly reassuring. Sometimes it's easy to feel guilty for taking a break, but your emphasis on being gentle with ourselves is a much-needed reminder. I particularly resonated with the idea of starting with what inspires us most. It's amazing how revisiting our favorite books or authors can reignite that creative spark.

  • Anonymous
    Anonymous 3 months ago


    I have tried above methods persuasive and other writing style 

  • Anonymous
    Anonymous 6 months ago

    I totally relate to this struggle. Life can throw unexpected curveballs, but getting back into writing is crucial. Personally, I find setting small, achievable goals each day helps rebuild momentum. Also, don't be too hard on yourself – progress, no matter how small, is still progress. You got this!

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