When Life Strikes Back

Sometimes life doesn’t seem to play fair. You have an idea you are working on, maybe you have a story to edit, maybe a story you want to write, whatever. You have enthusiasm. And you have time. Then suddenly you don’t.
This Sunday, I was thinking about the novel I’m currently trying to write the second draft of. Despite my best efforts, it has been going very slowly. If I’m lucky, I can get about five to eight pages done in a day. Other days, I’m lucky to get two pages done. I had, at one very foolish point, planned to aim for the story to be done by the end of February so I could start something new in March. As you might guess, this did not pan out. In fact, this whole week so far, I’ve gotten about six pages done. Why? No, it’s not writers block (that will probably be another post), but life that got in my way.
You see, I work at a small store, under a married couple. Well, the wife is ill, so she can’t come in. Because she’s ill, her husband has to take care of many other things, so I have put in more hours in the past three days than I have in all of last week or the week before. When I come home, I am exhausted, and writing is one of the last things on my mind. That’s why this post is so late. Quite frankly, I didn’t feel like blogging at all. Sorry.
Sometimes life will slow you down, fill up your time, or just generally get in your way. I’m lucky in that my situation is both minor and temporary. So what if it isn’t? What if things are bigger than putting in extra hours, or you don’t see a way out? I’m not a counselor, so please don’t ask me for help. But my advise about writing, when you are tired, busy, or down, is that it really depends on you.
One summer I was working at a camp and my time was strictly regimented. I had a few hours a day that I could do whatever I wanted instead of what they told me to do. When I had so little time, I made writing a priority. When I had to take a couple days off because I got sick (I worked in the kitchen), I ended up writing 10,000 words in about a day and a half. Other times, I’ve decided that writing is making me so frustrated that I had to take a day off. Then again, at times writing is wonderful therapy. Writing your emotions in a diary, or making life more difficult for your main characters because you are having a rough time, it can be amazingly therapeutic. Really, you are the only one who can tell.
Basic advice: If writing really is a priority to you, then try not to go more than three days without writing something. Doesn’t matter what, or how much. Just don’t let your creativity muscles atrophy. Two, when your writing makes you want to tear your hair out, take a break. Three, consider your priorities. When faced with a true emergency, your writing can, and probably should, be put on the back burner. Don’t feel guilty about it.
Now, if you excuse me, I have a novel to work on.

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One thought on “When Life Strikes Back

  1. smwilliams says:

    I sometimes think I get more writing done when my time is less flexible. I’ll have a huge chunk of time available for writing and spend hours cat vacuuming, then on another day I’ll only have 45 minutes in a noisy terminal between flights when I have the flu and I’ll bang out 2,000 words (actually maybe I just write better when I’m feeling tired and mildly hallucinatory).

    I think, though, that writing every day sets one up to jump back in more easily the next day. Since I’ve gotten more regular in my writing habits, I find that I can always write, and get into it faster, assuming my general shiftlessness doesn’t take hold.

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