When You’ve Been Away From Writing So Long It Feels Impossible To Return


I had a recent stint of five weeks, knee-deep in a work contract, where I didn’t have (or make) time to work on my book.

And here’s what I discovered: the longer I stayed away, the harder it became to return. It started to feel impossible; that I’d never again be able to open the document and feel as though inside it. That feeling paired with a sense of loss, a heartache for the work. I wanted to write but no longer trusted I still “had it”, or knew what I was trying to say.

This occurred around the same time I was considering giving up cello lessons (I’m a complete beginner—I’ve been learning for 9 months and playing from Suzuki Cello Volume 2). My wonderful teacher sat me down, opened the first page of Volume 1 to the most simple of pieces. She told me to allow myself to return to the physicality of the experience.

‘Feel the cello between your knees,’ she said. ‘Feel the bow hair tugging against the strings. Breathe.’

Slowly, gently, I’ve reaquainted myself with my instrument and have returned to daily practice. It’s taking time to build confidence and technique again, so I’m still working on the simple pieces, finding enjoyment in the process.

The same day of the cello lesson I returned to my desk and, for the first time in five weeks, opened the manuscript. I stared at the words on the first page, then scrolled down and then up the entire document, black words on white pages flashing past. I swallowed, closed my eyes for a second. I couldn’t even remember where I was up to! Breathe, I reminded myself, just breathe.

So, instead of trying to write, I printed off a few chapters, took them to the couch and started reading, getting to know the work again, making pencil marks as I went. Now, a week later, I’m able to write, enjoying the sensation of fingers on keys; feeling my way back to the book, rediscovering what it is I am trying to say.


11 thoughts on “When You’ve Been Away From Writing So Long It Feels Impossible To Return

  1. Hey Caroline! I’m not sure if you know this but I read your Blog all the time. It would be great to catch up soon XX


  2. Oh I so totally hear you! It’s SO HARD to get back into writing after time away! I lose the essence of my characters, I lose the tone of the story. I’m a plotter rather than a pantser, so I still know where the story is going, but finding my voice again can be challenging.
    I can’t wait to read your book when it’s finished!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. But doesn’t your soul sing when you open up that glory box of creativity? Interesting that you reference breathing ….I always think I breathe better, (and feed my body better), following a bout of music. It’s maybe why pilates fits so well with us too?? Glad you found your way back. Love you xxx

    Liked by 1 person

    • It’s such a great feeling when you finally make your way back! There are SO many similarities about the process and output or writing and music. And yes, pilates completes the triumvirate—each aspect aids the other two. It’s all about what you let go of. Love you too, my clever, musical friend x

      Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s