1. Remind yourself why you started writing in the first place and why you took a break. Ask yourself why you’re ready to return and how to know when it will be time to take another hiatus in the future.
2. Choose one project you want to start working on when you get back. You don’t want to overwhelm yourself with too many possibilities, especially if you’re not even close to starting yet.
3. Set a return date. Instead of saying “I’ll start writing again next week,” pick a date that you can mark on your calendar. That is your first day back “in the office.” Stick to it.
4. On that date, show up and write. You can show up in your sweatpants. You can show up with messy hair. You can show up with an incomplete idea. You can show up uncertain. All that matters is that you show up.
5. Start with writing something “easy,” such as spending 20 minutes free writing (writing whatever you want without worrying about quality). This is not the time to challenge yourself.
6. Set a very small goal for your first week, such as writing 500 words a day or spending 15 minutes writing every morning before work.
7. Try not telling anyone you’re doing it. Treating this big step like a “secret project” can add a kind of thrill to the experience that’s perfect for motivating you to jump in.
8. But if you really need some kind of social accountability, start by filling in one person or a small group of people of your plans. You might need support, but you don’t want to put yourself under too much pressure. It’s really up to you.
9. Focus on writing things that make you feel. Tapping into the emotional elements of writing not only helps potential readers connect with your story — it helps you immerse yourself in it too.
10. Your goal in returning to writing — regardless of the reason for your hiatus — is not to do this perfectly. Your only goal should be to do it to the absolute best of your ability.
11. Expect it to be hard. Writing will always be hard. If you come into it expecting it to be different degrees of challenging each time, you won’t struggle so much.
12. Remember: No matter where you go from here, your ideas and your words and the impact they can have on the world matter. Take things one step at a time, and don’t forget to breathe.
Meg is the creator of Novelty Revisions, dedicated to helping writers put their ideas into words. She is a staff writer with The Cheat Sheet, a freelance editor and writer, and a 10-time NaNoWriMo winner. Follow Meg on Twitter for tweets about writing, food and nerdy things.