Life happens. People fight, get divorced, get fired, and lose loved ones. When these things like this happen in your life, writing can understandably become a much lower priority. It can also be much harder to write if a major source of stress is requiring so much of your mental energy. Life happens to all of us at one point or another and it’s fine to take a break from writing to manage it, but it’s also important not to let life stop you from achieving your writing goals.
Here are some ways to keep writing when your life blows up:
1) Abandon your schedule/plan
When you’re dealing with a majorly stressful situation, it’s important to limit your stress in as many other areas of your life as possible. This can start with writing. Ditch your plan and schedule and find a victory in simply moving your project forward, even if it’s only a little bit. Write what you can, when you can. It’s okay if it’s just a page or a sentence, or an eighth of the work you normally do. You don’t even have to like or be happy with what you’ve written. Let it be enough that you wrote something. And let yourself off the hook for the work you didn’t get to.
2) Take time off when you need it
It’s okay not to show up every planned writing day. Real life problems can be time-consuming and draining. It’s okay if you have a day, or stretch of days, where you don’t have the time or the energy to write. Let yourself take the time away from your work without feeling guilty or worried about how behind you’re getting. But also, be careful not to let this become a habit. The longer you go without writing the harder it will be to fit it back into your life again. If you find that you’ve gone a whole month without writing at all, consider some tips from point #1 and try to write something, even if it’s only a sentence.
3) Let writing be your escape
Trying to fit writing in when everything else is going to hell can sometimes feel like a burden and a chore. But if you can, try to reframe the task in your mind so your story becomes your escape. There’s a good chance your real life problem will start to feel all-consuming. So dive into your own fictional world for a half-hour or so and let your book completely monopolize your brain. This might be easier said than done, but if you can find the time and the headspace, you may find it refreshing and rejuvenating.
4) Let writing help you sort through your emotions
If you can’t seem to get yourself in the right frame of mind to escape your problem, consider using writing to process your situation and emotions. Put your characters in a similar situation as you. Or if that’s a little too on the nose, try putting them in a situation where they might be feeling what your feeling but in a different context. If you need to temporarily abandon the project you’re working on, that’s fine! It’s better to keep writing and write something different than to stop writing altogether because you’re not feeling up to working on your work in progress.
5) Remember why you’re doing this
There is a reason you’re writing. You probably love it. Maybe it makes you happy and whole. Maybe it helps you make sense of and give meaning to the world. These things are most likely true no matter what you’ve got going on in your life. Let those reasons for anchor you to your work–even if it’s only for a few moments a day or a few moments a week. Remember why this matters to you, and why it was important enough to fit into your life in the first place. As long as you hold on to why this matters to you, you’ll be able to find your way back to the page.
As always, I hope this helps!
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Now it’s your turn: Do you keep writing when life blows up? If you do, how do you do it? If you don’t, how do you get back on track? Tell me about it in the comments!