Recommendations for making "I'm not dead!" updates during hiatus, if at all?
So, to carry on with the question is there a recommended method of informing readers that I haven't disappeared, I just haven't had the time or remaining mental capacity necessary to finish the next chapter? When I do work on it, I'm lucky to add another fifty words to it before I remember another assignment or lab report that's due and then lose my focus entirely. I initially set up a discord server in anticipation of such a scenario but only one person has joined it so it's not exactly an ideal place to inform a group at the moment. Should I not worry about making it known at all and just adopt a laissez-faire approach saying, "Meh, I'll get to it when I get to it. The followers will get a notification and the others may see it on the front page eventually or check back by chance."
You're kinda in a weird place. Because you stopped so early, I would say your best bet is to pick up and pretend nothing happened. Don't give an update, pretend it never happened.
Hiatus's look bad and since you can get away with pretending it didn't exist, you should. New readers aren't going to read your apology as much as you want them to. Instead, if they notice your apology, they'll use it as an excuse to call you an unreliable author and select "not interested" for your fiction. They don't care what excuse you have, they will use the rope you gave them to hang you with.
Instead, apologize with actions. Return with a steady schedule. The most successful fictions on the site are the ones that have consistent release dates. "He Who Fights With Monsters" releases once a weekday, at 3PM for me. And he sticks to it.
If you had anyone who was enjoying your fiction, they were probably able to make a relatively clean break because you stopped early. So they shouldn't hold a grudge.
The only thing you need to worry about are the timestamps on your existing chapters. Hopefully, they don't notice, but even if they do it's not the end of the world. Author's have hiatuses, it happens. What matters is that by the time anyone notices, you'll have 5 newly minted chapters burying that timestamp proving that it was a one-off. Remember, actions speak louder than words.
I agree with what was said above. Honestly, I wouldn't even mention it either. Once you do find yourself with more free time, just keep adding chapters like nothing ever happened. Maybe add a little author's note on the bottom of the next one, but that's about it in my opinion. If you don't make it a big deal, then your readers won't either
I swear I'm also almost done with my 4th chapter, it just needs 20% more polishing