Blogger: Mary Keeley
Recently I’ve heard several writers comment they are frustrated because they can’t maintain their desired writing schedule. Life happens. When family crises, health issues, nurturing small children, or necessity to keep your day job take priority, you don’t have to put your writing life on hold.
It’s all about perspective. Your situation might not be your plan but instead God’s plan for a purpose you can’t yet see. You might need to tell a different story or write about a different topic. I firmly believe that for Christians nothing happens by chance. Look at this phase as a time of discovery. Your characters will be more compelling or your nonfiction book more relevant as a result of what you can learn during these apparent life interruptions.
Here are five things you can do that will keep you moving forward when you can’t write.
- Journal. Grab a few minutes each day to write about your emotional reactions to the situation you’re in. What’s your perspective on it? That’s a good question to ask in the privacy of your journal. Let’s face it, a woe-is-me attitude can creep in. But you can catch it red-handed right there on the page. What you record about yourself and those around you can be attributed to characters in your novel. You’re taking in the stuff of our human condition on a deeper level during these life interruptions. Let the experience infuse your writing. Another bonus from journaling is that you’ll learn to recognize and develop your unique voice.
- Jot down thoughts, words, phrases, scenes that stand out to you. I learned this tip from Ann Lamott’s book, Bird by Bird. She suggests keeping 3×5 index cards handy at all times to write down a random word, name, quote, or thought you find interesting. You’ll never remember them later, so be sure to write them down. File them away to resurrect later.
- Document things happening in your life. Keep track of events, details, conversations related to your interruption. What is the dosage of that medication your ill mother needs? Why did the doctor say she needs it? How long was the time frame between the diagnosis and treatment, treatment and recovery? These details and timelines could prove valuable later on not only as a medical journal but also details for your work in progress.
- Keep in touch. When you feel as if your writing friends are sailing on ahead of you, you can be tempted to withdraw. Resist! Don’t become isolated from your writing circle or from your agent. Stay connected with your critique partners and ask them to update you on publishing industry news. Attend writers conferences if possible.
- Insert laughter. This tip might seem as if it doesn’t fit on this list. But it’s a necessary ingredient for staying joyful, positive, and for keeping your life interruption in godly perspective. You’ll bring joy to those who need you and to yourself. Your creative mind and spirit will be lifted.
I know a multi-published author whose spouse has been fighting cancer for several years. This situation could keep her from writing. But it isn’t. She made these practices her habit long before the illness. Being a seasoned professional, she functions in both worlds. It can be done. When you are finally able to devote time to the act of writing, you’ll be surprised at how much you learned during this interruption that will help to make your book even better. These pauses actually can prove to be important steps forward in your career.
What has worked for you during stalled writing seasons?
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