I’m sure you’ve never had days when things come at you so fast you don’t have time to take a deep breath. And I’m sure you’ve never had weeks of those days, so filled with commitments that require more time than expected that at the end of each day you realize you’ve not written a word.
I’m sure your life is much more organized and structured than mine. No, I don’t really believe that. Each of us has days that throw more challenges our way than we have the energy to meet. And some of those days the priority for setting words on paper drops one level at a time, until it hits rock bottom and we forget to pick it up, dust it off and place it back in plain sight.
And to make it easier to stay secure in our writing energy we can prepare ourselves to better meet the challenges that show up unexpectedly.
1. Accept that you failed to meet your writing goals and don’t beat yourself up over it.
2. Create a contingency plan for days and weeks when you must give up writing in order to take care of unexpected illness, furnaces that fall apart, or in-laws that drop in and want to tour the town.
Perhaps you can read and edit the last several chapters you wrote while sipping lemon tea and blowing your nose. You’ll be ready to do your rewrites when you feel better.
While the furnace repair guy clangs and crashes parts of the new furnace just around the corner from your desk, you can spend your time de-cluttering your desk. Heck, might as well take care of your whole office, because you know as soon as you start writing again you’ll never stop to take care of the towering piles of your last two manuscripts. Sort everything out, stow it away, and be ready to write when the new furnace starts running.
It may mean you hide a digital recorder in your hand while giving your in-laws the fifty-cent tour of the town’s attractions. While the in-laws are mambo-ing through the tourist shops and landmarks, you will be stealthily whispering the next chapter of your novel into your clenched fist. Perhaps you can convince them you’re an international spy, and you’re using them as cover while working a case. Or maybe you’ll be lucky and they’ll never notice what you’re up to.
3. And what do we do once we’ve vanquished all the demon challenges vying for our attention? We pick up our pen, or keyboard, and arm ourselves with new determination. And we start writing again.
Happy writing to you, through tropical storm and water shortages, through pneumonia and shingles, through early labor and family visits.
How do you get back on track when life throws a major distraction through the window – like, oh… say… you can’t access your website to publish your latest post? What have you done to keep writing through life’s biggest challenges? Share your tips in the comments.