We’ve all been here. You’re on a roll. you’re writing 2,000 to 10,000 words a day on your new novel. You’re slated to get your new first draft done in two to three weeks, and all of a sudden life kicks you in the ass. It’s been anywhere from four weeks to six months since you’ve looked at that bad boy, and you’ve forgotten where you are going with it.
This is a crap scenario right here. You’ve read the last line you wrote and drawn a blank. This happened to me a few days ago. I was slated to get a first draft not only done, but published in less than six weeks. Then, I looked at my publishing schedule for the year and realized I wrote five books last year, and I have six to nine scheduled for this year. It’s time for a new website. This website, actually. So, I spent the last three weeks on this website. When I went back to my novel, I could not remember what I had planned to do next. Soneofabitch.
Thankfully, there are ways to get back into your next book quickly.
1. Read the Last Chapter
Everything you planned to do is still in your head. If you can’t remember what you were doing by reading the last line, read the last chapter. This should give you enough information to get going again. The goal here is just to get restarted and finish your current chapter as well as start the new one. Any continuity errors can be fixed in editing.
2. Truncate the Chapter
In this instance, you read the last chapter, but the middle/ending of this chapter is still gone. If reading the chapter gave you any insight as to what’s going to happen in the next chapter, cut this one off, create a pagebreak and type “Chapter XX”, XX being your chapter number. Go ahead and start your next chapter. You can also type something at the end of your last chapter to let yourself know that you need to add more of ‘something’ to the end of it.
3. Read Your Notes
If you’re like me, you don’t outline. The book runs off a tagline and maybe a character list and some sparse notes. If you did this, scroll to the top of your manuscript and read those notes. This may help jar your memory enough that you can start that new chapter even if you can’t finish the chapter where you stopped.
4. Read the Entire Thing
This is always my last piece of advice, because you really want to get restarted as quickly as possible, and you don’t want to get stuck in a partial reading/editing phase this early in the process. Unfortunately, if none of the above worked to jar your memory, you may very well have to read the entire thing. Ideally, you’ll want to skim it or speed read it just enough to figure out where you were going with your book. If you find yourself reading every single word, you might as well flesh it out while you’re reading it. This will allow you to add some words to the total length, so that you feel llike you are being productive and moving forward. By the time you finish this tip, you should be on your way to completing your next novel.