Take a look at my writing journey up to this point—I mean, would you look at it:
-Graduated high school
-Graduated college in Marketing
-Got an entry-level marketing job
-Graduated from Business School
-Moved up in said marketing job
-Started freelance writing (random?)
-Started blogging at marketing job
-Stopped freelance writing (life)
-Continued moving up in marketing job
-Started doing SEO at marketing job
-Took over control of blog at marketing job
-Got back into freelance writing
Yikes. When you stack it up, it’s a wonder I even ended up here, writing.
But, here I am, and I love it.
The point of this blog is, though, I didn’t love it at a time (or a few times), but taught myself to give it another shot. Even just beginning pretty much out of nowhere, a freelance writer without any experience whatsoever.
So, I wanted to share the why, the how, and touch on when I think I might get back out of writing, and how I plan on jumping back in yet again.
Get Back Into Writing…But Why?
Who are you and why did you start writing in the first place? I’m asking the question, but I’m more asking you to ask yourself.
Meaning, there was a time and place when writing was your thing; your jam. Perhaps you were writing a book, or, like me, perhaps writing was a ticket to earning side gig income. Some of you, gasp, may have just been writing for fun; say poems, short stories, or something else.
Whoever you are, and whatever it is you were writing, I bet you stopped for this reason:
You just couldn’t find enough time to continue.
Now, maybe you were in the middle of your third chapter and hit writer’s block and stopped at that moment. Or, perhaps you were doing just fine as a freelance writer but went a week without securing a new client and thus stopped at that moment.
Whatever the situation, you may have stopped writing in the moment for one reason, but the main reason you haven’t gotten back into writing is because of time, or the feeling that you don’t have any time.
If so, think some more—what has changed in your life when you compare what you had going on back when you were writing versus what you have going on now? For some of you, yes, there are literally less hours in the day to dedicate to writing. I get that. You are off the hook…for the time being.
For the others, though, please take a look in the mirror. Look yourself in the eyes and think about whether or not you really have less time now to write than you did before.
Upon doing so, I bet some of you – just like I did – found out you were lying to yourself. It’s not that you have less time, but you have less desire to dedicate the time you do have to writing.
Maybe it’s a Netflix binge, or Fortnite, or some other “hobby” that is filling in your calendar gaps. Maybe it’s friends, and Monday Night Football, or Thursday Night Football, or all-day Sunday football.
See my point?
If this sounds familiar or is something you can identify with, it’s time to question the “why?” If you’re to the point of googling something like getting back into writing, it’s a good indication that that “why” is at least still flickering.
And if there is in fact a flicker, you owe it to yourself to try and reignite.
If your original “why” is financially motivated, ask yourself if watching Netflix or playing video games, or watching a million hours of football per week is worth the tradeoff. If your original “why” is for entertainment or relaxation, etc., the same must be asked—are you mentally better off with these other things, or do you get more from writing?
If ready to continue on, then let’s look at the “how” you can go about getting back in.
How to Get Back Into Writing
Bear with me, as I need to now somehow figure out what kind of writer you are, the different types of copywriting you work with, and the specific challenges you might be facing when it comes to getting back into writing.
So, as you can imagine, this is a living list of tips; I’ll be adding to it as I hear from different people and the hurdles they’re personally facing (don’t be afraid to email with your questions).
So, how to get back into writing…
- Just brain dump
- Let others inspire you
- Re-inspire yourself
- Tell others about your plans
- Clean your desk/hit reset
- Get new writing toys
- Stop while you’re ahead
1. Just brain dump all over the place
It sounds weird, but I’m being serious. In the time it took you to sit down at the computer to research how to get back into writing, you could have easily fired up a new document and started brain dumping.
What that specifically entails depends on what you’re aiming to write, but the end goal remains the same. By writing freely, you’re letting your brain do the heavy lifting. This is opposed to when you sit down with the goal of hammering out a chapter or a blog post, you’re forcing your brain to do the heavy lifting. See the difference?
A brain dump doesn’t need structure or a goal. It’s just you and a blank slate, allowing you to write anything you wish. For me as a blogger, this is actually how I start writing the majority of my content. Sure, I have a topic in mind, but it really starts more as a release of the words piling up in my head about that topic versus the need to create content.
It’s amazing the way jotting down one simple phrasing or sentence can trigger something else, which then leads to another idea, and before you know it, you’ve actually crafted a paragraph worthy of inclusion in whatever it is your end deliverable will be.
The beauty of writing (well, one of many beauties) is the fact that it isn’t changing anytime soon. I mean, compare it to trying to get back into something like video games, which have been completely revolutionized, and revolutionized over the last few years, even. You’d be lost and confused as to where to turn first.
With writing, though, nothing has changed. You have words, you have pen, you have paper, you have a laptop. It’s all you need and it’s all you’ll ever need. There isn’t any additional learning that needs to first take place.
So, sit down and write something. Anything. It can be a note to your future self, or a note to your past self. It could be a short product description of whatever is sitting on your desk or about whatever it is you plan to cook for dinner. It could be an ode to your dog. Really, the goal is to write something that reminds you that you are in fact a good writer.
2. Let others inspire you (to actually take action)
Between free blog content, podcasts, courses, and other content forms, we all have more than enough content to dive into and learn from.
But isn’t there a limit to how much we can actually absorb? Isn’t there a limit to how much we should absorb before we take action? When is enough, enough?
I’ll tell you when enough is enough. It’s when you find yourself saying “I should try that” more than once per podcast. It’s when you look back at your notes and just get overwhelmed by the volume of scribbles piling up from the course you just read; a page full of “nuggets” but a world devoid of any type of action from those nuggets.
So on one hand, “motivators” and experts can really be a detriment; and it’s not any fault of theirs, and it’s no fault of yours either. But you need to make a change now. The best way to absorb the content is to make a plan to put at least some of it in motion.
So, let others inspire you, but don’t let others drown you in their “do this” piles and “do that” laundry lists. Listen, make mental note, but in the spirit of the above, do something with it.
3. Re-inspire yourself
And hey, don’t forget…if you were writing at one point, you’re probably the best person positioned to bestow inspiration. I mean, you’ve moved yourself to get writing at one point, so why can’t you do it again?
So, think back to why you were writing before…what was it that pushed you to get started? Was it financial motivation? If so, are you happy where you are now financially?
I touched on this in the intro, but take an inventory of your life. What is missing, and can writing help fulfillment?
4. Tell others what you plan to write, and when you plan to write it
You know why it’s easy to quit on yourself? Because you’re quitting on yourself, and you are too forgiving. Unfortunately, we let ourselves down all the time, and we do so because we are able justify a thousand different reasons for doing so.
So, to get back into writing, set a goal of what you’re going to write, and by when, and then tell others about it. Friends, family, and anyone else you know won’t let you get through a conversation without asking about how you’re progressing. “Ryan, how’s the book coming?” I bet the first time you have to lie or let someone know that “well, I haven’t really started yet,” it’ll be your last.
You might have been able to let yourself down in the past, but having to disappoint others who are rooting for you, or shoulder embarrassment because you haven’t kept up your end of the bargain is a tough pill.
5. Clean off your desk, or hit reset on your writing space
Of course, “desk” here really means your writing area or space. Wherever it is you do your writing, hit reset and clean it up. Any type of refresh at this point can easily free up the mind, and a clean, renewed workspace can be extremely inviting.
I don’t have much more to add here. It’s the same idea behind something so basic as, I don’t know, making your bed. No matter how tired you are, getting back into a made bed is one, a blissful experience, and two, will probably allow you to get better sleep.
Thus, no matter how bad you want to write or get back into writing, an “unmade bed” doesn’t necessarily kick things off in the right direction.
6. Get new writing toys
Believe it or not, we’ve gotten to the point where a word processor can be tedious. Yes, the thing that saved us from pen and paper is actually becoming a tool of the past thanks to new entrants like Google Docs or Scrivener.
I mean, it sounds silly, but I really think I now write as much as I do partially because it’s so much easier to do so with something like Google Docs. No need to manually save, the ability to easily find old documents, shared editing and creation, easy and simplified formatting, cross-device access, and on and on.
The same can be said for buying a new laptop to work on or purchasing a new course to learn from. Doing so can be motivating to the point of wanting to use that new piece of equipment or to dive into that new content you to start writing to justify the cost.
Other fun new things available that might also make your writing life easier include easy to use design tools like Canva or Snappa, or Evernote for easy brainstorming and note taking, or Hemingway for suggested editing improvements.
7. Take a break from writing while your brain is still full
One of the greatest pieces of writing advice I ever received was to not wait until you’re out of ideas to stop writing. Meaning, many people will write and write and write until they hit a roadblock, or until they’re at the point of not being able to formulate even a sentence more.
When you do that, how easy is it to pick up where you left off the next day? It’s difficult.
Thus, writer’s block is easily one of the most common reasons people stop writing in the first place, but it’s not the writer’s block that is occuring “in the moment,” but rather, the writer’s block that occurred the night before, leaving you with pretty much nothing to pick up and run with.
So, obviously, the suggestion here is to stop your writing when you’re on a roll, or at least when you have an idea left in the tank. Waking up the next day, the idea should still be fresh (and if not, write down a reminder), and the thought of it is like injecting liquified writing bug directly into your veins.
But how does that get you to start writing again after some time off? Well, it really doesn’t. But, after employing one or a few of the tips above to get back into writing, remember this one so you stay writing.
So, in the spirit of the above..
Stop reading this, and do something. That “something” should hopefully act as a catalyst to get back into writing, and I’d love to hear from you on whether or not that’s actually the case.