I don’t know about you, but I find life completely distracting. Just when I’ve planned to get a whole day’s writing done, life gets in the way. One of my kids gets sick, the goat gets its head stuck in the fence again or ‘paid’ work (known by some as the Evil Day Job) calls.

It’s life! It leaves me feeling frustrated, as if I’ve spent the whole day on the edge of my seat, waiting for something important that hasn’t happened yet.

These are usually the days I find myself writing into the wee small hours – immersing myself in my work after domestic harmony has been restored.

But it’s not always easy to get back into the story – to restore the mood – to get back into your character’s world and inside their head.

Here are my tips for burrowing your way back into your story. This is what I do:

1.  Chat to my MC (Main Character). Ask them, what were you doing last time we ‘spoke’? How did you feel about that? What are you going to do now?

2.  Refer to my plot plan or diagram so that I can remind myself of what might happen next in the story. If you’ve done a synopsis, reading that again can be helpful too.

3.  Read the last five pages I wrote so that I can set myself back in the scene.

4.  Put myself back in the same physical space where I wrote last.

5.  Remind myself of what excites me about this story.

6. Try to get myself back into the mood I was in when I last worked on the story. I use music and other sensory assistance to help me get back there.

7.  Remind myself of the purpose of the story as a whole – What does my MC want, what is the obstacle stopping them from getting it, how are they going to overcome that obstacle?

8.  Remove any distractions that might stop me from immersing myself in my story. This would include disconnecting from the internet, putting the phone on answering machine – and putting my mobile in a different room.

9.  Find physical prompts to help me get back into the setting of the story. For example, my current WIP is a survival story set in Central Australia. I have a whole cork board of setting pics that I can look at to help me get back to the world of my story.

Hope you’ve found this helpful. I’d love to hear from you about any techniques or tips you have for getting back into your story after you’ve taken a break. Feel free to comment at the end of this post.

Happy writing:)




  1. All great ideas, Dee!
    Interruptions are unavoidable – but even when the rest of the world interferes with writing, you can still think about the story. I’m a great believer in subconscious working.
    I’ve also found I have to re-read over what I’ve already written, a few chapters before etc and glance over the story arc diagram too, just to pull my imagination back in its environment.
    Seems to work every time. So far! 🙂

  2. Hi Dee, Oh, yes, life can get in the way big time, no goats here (although we did have goats when I was a child). Your nine points all work for me. It’s good to read that you struggle with a similar “absent mind”. I’ve had times when I saw my computer as a big black hole, if I closed docs and walk away from my desk for more than a day everything seemed to have disappeared, gobbled up and hidden by that blinking thing. I started keeping certain docs on the desktop just so I would be reminded of their existence. But that proved not to be enough. Caus I could get lost in another project in another location. Nowadays I leave the docs open without quitting Word. Since I can only use that program on one computer at the time, I have to come back to my writing den. And when I hit a key, “voila!” there’s my WIP

  3. I agree Sheryl,

    Thinking is a huge part of writing – that’s why my dog gets walked so much LOL. i find that walking is great for helping me think.

    Hope you have a good writing week.


  4. Hi Dee, I find life a constant distraction too. Great to hear your tips and also see how organised you are. I can see now how I can use those to help me work on a longer piece of work.
    My dog decides to eat things when I haven’t paid her enough attention. Things she shouldn’t eat. Things like my make up or shin pads or chairs o the back porch…or the gas line to the bbq

  5. How timely. Your post is right on target. Today was the day stuff got in the way…but I finally decided how I wanted my myth book to go and kept that in my mind. Did manage some editing. But so timely Dee.

  6. Great post, Dee!

    I finally found my rhythm that works for me. I spend the morning re-reading what I wrote the previous day and catching the small line edits and minor revisions along the way. Then use the afternoon to create new scenes. I’m already “in the mood” by the time the afternoon rolls around and it makes it easier to transition back into that place where I left off the day prior. Of course, this only works when life *doesn’t* get in the way… hahaha!!! If only that never happened!

  7. Thanks Judith,

    Your comment made me laugh. I could really relate to it:)

    I really need to sort my docs out. I can’t leave them open on the desktop because our power supply can be unreliable and I’m worried I’ll lose something if we have a black out.

    Hope your WIP is going well.


  8. Thanks for sharing, Elle.

    That sounds like a really good plan and creating new scenes would prepare you for the next day.

    Even though life distracts us, it can be good to have a solid starting plan can’t it?

    Happy writing:)


  9. Hi Dee, yes it’s so hard to get back to something if you’ve been interrupted, particularily if you’ve been on a roll and really enjoying it. But it’s famil forst for me, a six year old and teenagers. I feel terribly guilty if I write instead of doing things my kids need done. I’ve had to ‘chillax’ as my teenagers tell me, that it will still be there when I get the time (writing, I mean). And it is. I’m writing a chapter book for 8-9 year olds at the moment about a whale rescue and I listen to whale music to get me back into it! It’s so beautiful…Have a great day. Neridah 🙂

  10. I find that keeping that mental space open for thinking about my stories is a good way of keeping in touch with it while I’m doing other stuff.Sometimes my ideas are better for having been stolen away from the word processor, so although I grit my teeth at not being able to write exactly when I want to, there can be are benefits. When I get back to the writing I can often get down a large amount of work.
    The only downside to thinking about my writing as opposed to actually doing it, is that I often bump into things, leave taps running, nearly get run over, forget I have children etc.

  11. Hi Dee
    Isn’t it annoying how “Distracting” life can truly be…and that is just the normal run of the mill day, not counting any major crises?! 🙂
    Love your tips….especially using both music prompts and visual prompts – ie pictures on the corkboard.
    For me music is a large prompt. I also like clearing my mind with some ‘stream-of-consciousness’ word play before getting immersed in the world of my story and characters again.

  12. Hi Dee

    I wish I had a dog to walk! Sometimes, I find that if I read what I’ve already written, I fall into the trap of fine-tuning the same scene over and over. One way I get back into the story whilst avoiding this temptation is to stick plot cards on the wall and ‘walk’ myself through the story, sort of sinking into it. Then I start writing. (At least, that’s the plan.)


  13. Hi Tracey,

    I know exactly what you mean LOL. Haven’t forgotten the children yet, but I do bump into things, put car keys in the fridge etc. Thanks for the tip. Keeping a mental space open for thinking is a great suggestion.


  14. Hi Neridah,

    A six year old and a teenager are definitely enough to keep you distracted from your writing:) Love the sound of your whale book. Whale music is beautiful, isn’t it?

    Happy writing:)


  15. Hi Dee
    My votes for points 3, 6 & 9. These are all I need to get me going. I use Scrivener and those cork boards work really well for me.
    Life definitely gets in the way of writing- and sometimes I have to force myself to shut down when I realise its 1.30am and I have to wake up in 5 hours.
    So know the feeling sister..
    Great post 🙂 Tee

  16. Hi Dee,

    This is the perfect post for me at this very moment in my life. I need to get back into my manuscript & had no idea where to start. Thank you, thank you, thank you! 🙂

    Deb xx

  17. Hi Tee,

    Thanks for dropping in. I definitely know the feeling:) Hate those nights when you realise that there just aren’t enough hours left for you to get a good sleep. Hard to tell those muses to be quiet and go off to sleep though isn’t it?:)


  18. Thanks for this blog post, Dee. I’ve been struggling to find my way back to my story since returning to work. Your blog has inspired me. Thanks for sharing.

  19. All helpful tips, Dee. Another is to leave the writing mid sentence. That way when I come back to it I’ve already got a start on where it is going and it is easy top pick up the thread.

  20. Thanks Dee.
    Very practical, helpful post.
    Music works well for me.
    And I like a sweet smelling room too, so use diffusers etc. Though that could be a consequence of the dog.
    I’m so impressed by your organisation. As I was reading your points, I kept thinking one day I’ll do that.

  21. These are great ideas! Especially the no distractions part. I find that time is very precious these days with college and whatnot running around in my life, vying for attention.
    What helps me to get in a writing mood (when I lack the time altogether) is to write in my head, or think up long, winding, descriptive sentences to describe events or experiences that happen day to day. That keeps my writing brain (creative juices) flowing, so I don’t get writer’s block. 😉
    For me, I always have to have the beginning and end of a story before I write it, so if I take a break (which sometimes is a very good thing to do if you get sidetracked or bored from knowing too much about your storyline) it’s easy to come back and fill in more spontaneity from life experiences – make the storyline more realistic.
    But, one thing I do know – writing short stories is a fun way to exercise the writing brain. It can be a paragraph, for all we writers care, but it’s a story nonetheless. And, it can be a challenge to renew some of that excitement in creating a new idea.

    Hope this helps!

    Love the post. Keep on writing!!

    God bless,
    Taylor J. Beisler

  22. Hi Alison,

    Thanks for your tips. Music is a great one for lots of people and I guess it can act as a trigger for the mood you were in last time you were working on the piece. Love the idea of using scent too. Both great stimulants for the senses.

    Happy writing:)


  23. Thanks Taylor,

    They are great tips too. Life does get busy so we have to make sure our writing is in manageable pieces too.

    I like the way you use the spontaneity of life to spice up your writing.

    So glad you enjoyed my post.

    Happy writing.


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