Friday Five: Finding My Way Back into My Story

Today, with a gift of two free writing days (husband and son are off for an end-of-summer backpacking trip), I’m opening up my WIP and digging back in.

Feels wonderful.

Here’s what I’ll be doing:

1. Writing OUTSIDE the house. I’m heading over to the coffeehouse where I’ll be away from laundry and the kitchen cupboards that still need to be cleaned out and all the wonderful books I brought home from the library yesterday.

2. Spending some time thinking generationally. Ideas & thoughts about the mother-daughter pattern of my story—the fears engendered during one’s immigration and the resistance/frustration the other has about those fears—have been simmering the last couple of weeks. I’m pretty sure this is what I brought home from Chicago, both from the research part and from the hours spent with my sister on our family tree. Its brought those two threads together in my mind–not in any clear way yet, but as a weaving I need to focus on. I’m going to try and build a basic timeline of their lives and choices, making sure they also fit in the big historical events that need to be part of their stories.

3. Taking a look at Shutting Out the Sky, a book about tenements recommended to me by Stella Michel.

4. Browing through the chapters I have written. I’m in a much different mode now–realizing I was rushing through pages too quickly for the thinking I need to do on this story. I’m not going to go back and rewrite, but I’ll be taking along a pad of sticky notes to jot down possible changes to make, layers to add, on later drafts. I also just need to remind myself where I’m at and from which scene I need to start writing forward.

5. Let myself fall in love again. Between Chicago and getting life organized the last few weeks, I need to spend some time with Caro, remind myself why her story is so important to me and how I want to bring it onto the page. I’ll be doing a lot of jotting and doodling today and tomorrow, and I may stick a few pieces of paper up around my office to remind me of what I’m doing here, with this young woman.

What about you? What do you do to get back into the swing of the story, after the two of you have been separated for a while?


  1. Claudine says:

    This is great advice, Becky. Thanks.

    What I’m doing is:
    1. putting my m/c, my villian and 2 others through char development templates (from Break into Fiction), then 2. I’m going to read through all my notes again.
    3. Then work on my synopsis.
    4. Then go through the Breakout Novel Exercises.
    And I’m IN! I hope.


    • beckylevine says:

      How is that Break into Fiction? I haven’t read it.

      Oh, yeah, that’ll get you in. Have fu! 🙂


  2. I love the way you brought back the sister theme as well as historical notes from Chicago.

    And I hope the falling in love is happening with your quiet weekend to fill: I think that kind of thing usually happens best when you have that sort of wide open time.

    Allowing.. letting as you say, is good.

    and in number 4, I kind of like browing through but I suppose you meant browsing. It made me wonder what you’re up to and it sounded… profound.


    • beckylevine says:

      Having this weekend was the perfect time to step back in. No schedules to meet–do whatever, whenever. Lovely.

      Browing–hmm. Must be a word, right, if the spellchecker didn’t catch it! (Or maybe I didn’t.) 🙂


  3. Sounds as though you have a compelling story to tell. Historical fiction is one of my favorite genres.

    When I’ve been away from my story for too long and want to get back into it, I simply reread the last few chapters I wrote. Perhaps I noodle with them a bit or reread the notes I took – namely things I’d like to include. that usually gets me thinking and itching to write again.

    By now, I’m used to dealing with interruptions in my writing. I have a 30 mile drive to and from work each day so I often use that time to think about my novel and my characters.

    Enjoy your gift!


    • beckylevine says:

      That 30 miles would be a good time to think!

      I am going to skim my chapters. They’re pretty darned loose so far, but I think they’ll get the ideas flowing.


  4. beth says:

    I’m a big believer in changing location and reading the story somewhere new! It totally works for me.


  5. Vivian says:

    Enjoy your writing time, Becky! If I had two free days, I’d first have to clean house, because I can’t write if everything is a mess. Then, I’d take my laptop to the library and revise! Though watching a couple documentaries and reviewing research would help me focus!

    Here’s to lots of productivity this weekend!


  6. I tend to do a lot of rereading of my old stuff in order to sink back into it all. Sometimes I surprise myself with parts that I read and I like a lot. Eventually I seem to reach something that I want to change and I start to dink with it a little and that brings me back on course.


    • beckylevine says:

      That sounds exactly like where I start with revision. And maybe a bit of this first drafting. I did it so differently last time, and the first draft of the-book-that-took-years-and-never-got-finished is just WAY out there on having NO pattern. So I feel like I’m winging it.


  7. What a lovely gift! Knowing how organized you are, I know you’ll make the best of your time. Enjoy falling in love with Caro again =)


  8. P. J. Hoover says:

    It’s hard. I always reread a bit to get myself back in the mood. Normally I’m happy with what I read and it gets me moving on to the future!
    must write on!


  9. Amy G. says:

    Two free days sounds lovely! Hope you’re having a lovely weekend with Caro/Clara. And the sticky notes are a great idea. 🙂


    • beckylevine says:

      I am having a great time. It’s starting to get a bit TOO quiet, but I’m keeping myself working so I don’t waste it. 🙂


  10. Barrie Summy says:

    “Oh, I could so use the gift of a few writing days in a row,” says a mother as the end of summer approaches…


    • beckylevine says:

      Oh, I know it. School started yesterday for us here, and I already feel so much more dug in. Hang in there!


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