3 Tips to Take Your Writing Back to When You Started

I’m often thinking of ways to recapture the love I had for writing growing up. You remember that time, when you would just write and write and make-up so many stories, the fluidity of it was just pure magic. I would come up with a storyline in my head and a few days later had a completed story. And let me tell you, I couldn’t be prouder of those completed stories.

I went to a New York City high school where we had to present certain papers and topics, whether conducting research on skin cancer, Egypt and hieroglyphics and China and how the written language shapes culture. I always loved working on these projects (probably one of the few high school kids who did). When I was about to graduate, one of my humanities teacher suggested I write about my writing and how it’s evolved from freshman to senior year, and how I plan on continuing to write. It sounded so simple and really was the easiest project I did during my time there. I love writing and the project flowed right on out from that feeling.

During the presentation piece of the project, one of my favorite teachers, knowing me very well said, “You know, writing life is challenging… and the older you become, it becomes more difficult to stick to it as a thing you do. How do you plan on overcoming that?” I looked at him completely puzzled and kind of huffed. “Mr. Humanities teacher (not his real name), how could you even ask me that,” I said. “It’s me. I just am.”

Fast-forward to simply almost two decades later, his little smart-ass question still echoes for me, makes me shudder and yet compels me to prove that young, high school girl right. I stopped writing with that desperation and love… when I started doing it more for obligation and getting an employer more clicks. It’s taken years return to that love I had for writing, tbh. Years and a lot of work. But I know I can write and continue making beautiful universes out of paper. I’ve been doing it all along, albeit differently than what I imagined it when I presented in front of a panel of teachers and classmates – but still doing it. Here are some ways to help you go back in time to keep going forward. 

Time Machine Paragraph. What was one of the first stories you remember writing? Now, try rewriting a paragraph of that story and a detail you remember adding that did it for you; that made you realize, “this is is. this is what I want to be doing for the rest of my life.” For me, it was during my Gabriel Garcia Marquez obsession, when I wrote a story about a widow who had woken from a sort of self-inflicted coma, when she realizes how old she’s gotten and we then get a breakdown of the essence of time. I was obsessed with that breakdown and how I explored time as Marquez might have written it. I revisit that always when I need a reminder of who I be.

READ NOW: “YO CREO QUE EL CARIBE…”

Coloring and Writing Out Storylines. Think as far back as you remember… and if you’re anything like me, maybe drawing can help. When I fell in love with writing, I would illustrate my own books, which helped craft my stories and really envision what I wanted to put on paper. I don’t remember when I stopped doing this. Probably sometime when I realized “real books” only had words. But, try doing something like this again and remembering your writing process growing up, back when the magic first happened.

CHECK THIS OUT: Once Upon a Time Writing Prompt PDF

Children’s Books. I love reading children’s books. I love reading children’s book for my children, other children and really anyone who would like to sit with me and a book or newspaper or magazine and listen. Children’s books are such a foundation and bedrock of what great writing is really all about. Take classics like, Goodnight Moon, where the rhyme and rhythm of the book takes on a certain sign-song method, where the images of the mush, the rabbit and the “great green room” all become these incredible characters. Read a few children’s book classics – specifically some you read as a kid – and see what else you notice and find and how it inspires your work. 

Image Credit: NASA Image of the Day

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