Writing When Your World is Out of Control

 

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Photo courtesy of morguefile

 

I had a dream that my writing time was uninterrupted. No family drama or emergency took me away from my words. I stayed on task. All the items on my checklist from blogs, to edits to marketing were completed. Then the alarm went off and I woke to reality. And I’m not alone in the real world of writing during crisis. Several writer friends requested prayer or shared their own struggles with meeting deadlines while family tragedies formed around them.

 

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Photo courtesy of morguefile

 

Some are dealing with aging parents and Alzheimer, illness, or tough things with their adult children. Others, it’s teens in rebellion, little ones with special needs, spouses in the hospital and the list goes on.

We will have trials

We don’t get to quit our day jobs to deal with most of this stuff, and our writing is just as important. But we can adjust. One author writes only hundreds of words daily rather than thousands as she waits by the bedside of her ailing mother.

Taking the laptop to the library to distance oneself from family drama for a few hours a day is one way we writers cope.  Unfortunate circumstances beyond our control amplify the adage, “there is no perfect time to start writing.”

Jesus reminds us that in this world we will have trials. And as a Christian the second half of the verse rings true for me. He says, “I have overcome the world”. Praying and seeking His peace and clarity is so crucial during family drama.

Keep a journal

No, this is not the time to write about the trial.  You’re too close and your emotions too raw. Keep a journal or open a file on your computer and dump all your emotions there. Someday in the distant future all that angst will be fodder for a novel, article, or how-to-endure-family-drama book.

Keep moving forward

For now, you just put one foot in front of the other. Decide what things you need to let go while you deal with the emotional, physical or legal things associated with your trial. I hired a lawyer to deal with all the paperwork for my aging parents. After my father passed, my mother is happy in her assisted living facility. My son’s family lives with us at present and there are times we are responsible for the granddaughters. Drama at work can drain my energy reducing the number of writerly things I get done at the end of the day.  Individually, these are only mild hiccups, but when they all come at you like a flood it can send your writing schedule out to sea. And you find yourself struggling to catch a breath and regroup.

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Once I established a way to deal with the small stuff the large chaotic surprises have a basic pattern to follow.

  • A few hundred words a day is better than none.
  • Go to the library or a café for a few hours to work
  • Turn off your cell phone if possible
  • Don’t accept a large project during a family drama
  • Have someone double check your work before submitting because your focus may be skewed now.
  • Ask for extensions but keep writing as if you don’t have one.
  • Reach out to family and friends for help. Don’t be a super hero. Not only will your writing suffer, but also those you care about most.

Anyone care to add to this list? I’d love to hear how you cope with big and small potholes along your writing journey.

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Reflection on 2016 and Refocus on 2017

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 At times my best intention got set aside in 2016 in order to deal with the drama of life. Image from free microsoft clipart.

2016 has been both a difficult and amazing year. I’ve found myself in the midst of great sorrow and awesome joy. Frustrated and energized and a myriad of other emotions.

My father passed. My mother went into assisted living. The months leading up to these two events were full of drama.

contractDuring those same months, I received a book contract and gained an agent. After getting over the initial shock and doing a few happy dances, the realization that life as I know it had just ratcheted up a few notches on the need-to-be-more-focused scale.

Then my PC did strange things at crucial moments. Tears and frustration abounded.ps-2911-meme Thanks to Microsoft technicians it found deliverance from cyber demons. My newly upgraded PC gave me better options for my Word documents. This led to more frustration while learning the new system.

Working with editors helped me learn to better edit myself.

Rejections

My second novel began doing the rejection rounds in 2016. I’m not discouraged because Secrets and Charades was rejected 20 times before it found a publishing home. I continue to edit and tweak.

My third novel is taking longer to write the first draft than the other two. My editor’s cap keeps me from moving on to the end.Long Ago Pic-2

I was forced to strive to be more productive in shorter increments of time due to family commitments and my job. I realized it was indeed possible to write at night even when I’m tired.

Marketing

Marketing is a new experience I began researching in 2016. Reading blogs from authors who have mastered marketing. Seeking out fellow-authors to learn their secrets. Brainstorming with another writer friend who is helping me get my marketing set up. Because I hate promoting myself, my internal judge sees no upside yet.

Realizing I can do this writing thing despite adversity has boosted my confidence.fear-and-doubt-meme

2017 Writing Goals

After the roller coaster of last year my writing goals for 2017 are simple.

Write more.

Edit more.

Learn my side of marketing.

Continue to pay-it-forward by helping other writers on their journey.

And sell lots of copies of Secrets and Charades. It comes out March 2017.

Happy New Year everyone. Hope you reach all your writing and marketing goals in 2017.