One of the best essays I’ve read about reconnecting to your novel and moving past “stuckness” was penned by Gail Godwin and published in The Writer. Godwin suggests that a creative work in progress may react to the fear of abandonment like an aggrieved pet, giving you, the author, the cold shoulder or even turning its back on you completely. The provocation of this punishment may be as slight as a busy weekend you spent with your family or a missed writing session. It may be more dramatic–weeks of putting your manuscript on the back-burner. When disconnect occurs, you the writer will likely be left in a panic, feeling doomed, and perhaps even deciding you’ve reached a dead end altogether.
Godwin shares various simple yet profound methods she discovered over the course of her writing life to reconnect with work–to woo it back. One way is through words, another through pictures. She suggests writing a letter to your work in progress, reviewing notes, mulling quietly, and reminding both of you where you’ve been and where your imagination gently suggests you might be going. She also uses drawings, sketching characters and scenes from a work and then exploring the visuals on the page to raise new questions and new possibilities. (No formal artistic training or talent required!)
I can share with you that both techniques have worked for me and I’m grateful for Gail Godwin’s wisdom and generosity. There is nothing fun about the feelings of dread, doubt, and panic that come with the sense that you’ve lost your creative way. Before you do anything rash, trying wooing. After all, Valentine’s Day is right around the corner.