Writing When Life Interferes
Posted by June Love Nov 8 2012, 12:01 am in inability to write, juggling life and writing, writing
How do you write when life interferes?
Seriously. I want to know. How do you sit down at the computer, maintain your focus, and form cohesive sentences when life sucks you in, spins you uncontrollably, and then hurls you to the ground without warning?
When I told my husband I was writing a blog about how to write when life gets in the way, he burst out laughing. “Well, that should be both an easy and short blog for you,” he said. “Because you don’t.”
I just hate it when he’s right.
As career oriented writers, we are expected to write. Come hell or high water our fingers should be flying over the keyboard at any given moment during the day. I hate to be the one to break it to you, but writers are human. And, sometimes, life just gets in the way.
It could be job related, it could be health issues, or it could be family related. The reason doesn’t matter. The important thing is whatever is going on in your life, it’s serious enough to prevent you from either having the time, energy, or frame of mind to sit down and put words on the page.
Several years ago, I experienced the unexpected death of a close family member. My world turned upside down in many ways. Apart from the sudden loss, I went from having an independent mother, who lived over two hours away, to one whose grief and subsequent health issues had her relying heavily on me.
I didn’t quit writing completely, but finding a time when I wasn’t mentally and physically exhausted from my duty as caregiver only added stress and guilt. Yes, guilt. Remember? Career oriented writers are expected to write. I grabbed a few hours here and a day there, but my concentration was shot. Simply put, I didn’t want to think. Thinking meant coming to certain realizations that I wasn’t ready to face. My life had forever changed.
I began wondering how many other writers had faced similar situations. Were they able to channel their pain into their writing? Were they able to block out their situation and power through to keep their writing routine?
The guilt that I couldn’t produce in the face of life’s challenge loomed over me. I questioned my dedication. I questioned my desire. I questioned my ability. I was driving myself crazy trying to fulfill my family obligations and justify why I wasn’t writing. I was adding stress on top of stress. So, I quit. Writing, that is. I came to the realization that it’s okay to take a writing break. I hadn’t lost my passion or desire, I just had to put it away for a short time.
Should writers give themselves permission to take time off from writing? It that really okay? Some would argue that if you don’t write every day, you lose your momentum. Some argue that powering through a rough time helps keep the emotion in your story. I say it’s up to the writer. She knows her limits. She’s aware of what’s going on in her life. My mother always told my two sisters and me, “Don’t criticize someone until you’ve walked a mile in their shoes.”
In my situation, it was absolutely the right thing to do. I don’t have any regrets. I was there for my mother when she most needed me. Her health has since improved, she’s moved closer to me, and we’re both healing from our loss. More importantly, every second I spent with my sister instead of writing is a memory I hold precious in my heart. As I said, no regrets.
What about you? Have you had to make some tough choices in your writing due to life’s interference? How did you juggle life and writing?