I’ve been writing a book for a very long time. In fact, I think I’ve been on this book for more than two years. Two years of going away, distracted by all that life offers, and returning to inch along, trying to add to my word count. One thing I’ve become very familiar with is returning cold to a book that’s been in some form of completion. Here’s how I approach this.
The first thing I want to share is that generally never, ever, jump back in and start writing. Whenever I do that, it always feels like going to be outside the necessary flow of the work. The writing will feel more abrasive and like it was cut and pasted.
To start, I’ll pick a point in the work and just start reading. The book I’m working on is 35,000+ words, so I can’t just sit down and read it all; so I pick a chapter that seems interesting and just start reading. After being away for a while – more than a month this time – reading this can feel like reading another writer’s work. Reading just allows me to get back into my own headspace and feel the flow of things.
Once I’ve read enough (sometimes this is all I do in one sitting), I start to change the work. Starting slowly, look to correct errors in spelling and punctuation. You probably won’t have to read much to find them with your fresh eyes on the work. Start fixing the small things and move on to fixing ever-larger chunks. Sentences, paragraphs, structure if you needed to. I feel like these edits really allow me to crawl back into the world slowly.
Now, I’m ready to start writing. I pick at some transitional sentences to see if I can make them pop more. You ought to look for parts of the work that might have been glossed over that might deserve a better or more in-depth description. At this point, you can also just re-write some stuff.
Then, I can start writing anew, adding to the piece feeling like I’m not messing up the groundwork too much. Naturally, your mileage will vary in all these concerns. I don’t expect you to follow my path. Hopefully, it’s at least been useful to see how I approach things.
I’m a major book reader and am currently writing a non-fiction book. Follow my progress in this handy newsletter.