Writing Through Unforeseen Circumstances

We’ve talked about crises and depression. If your life isn’t touched by either of these, surely you’ve had a writing day get derailed by unforeseen circumstances. You’re looking forward to that session, when wham! Your toilet overflows, the dog or the kids are sick or your computer has a virus. Nearly everyone has a story about how their writing got hijacked by life. But maybe we should focus on the positive.
Writing Tip for Today: What are some attitudes you can adopt or things you can do when your writing gets delayed for reasons out of your control?

  • Learn the N Word (NO!). It’s easy to say, “Why me?” and gripe about your situation. With major disappointments (such as rejections, bad reviews or the like) I give myself 24 hours to be as miserable as I want. Then it’s back to work. With life’s annoyances, I remind myself it’s not going to last forever. Or at least I HOPE it doesn’t. And I don’t have to rescue everyone I know. Give your attention to true emergencies, but also learn to say NO when appropriate. For example, my oldest son needed a babysitter for my grandson on very short notice. I happen to teach a professional writer’s group during the time the 2 year-old needed care–definitely a hard decision for me. But in the end, I had to put my students first–after all they pay me to do this. I had to let the baby’s parents work out their child care arrangements without Grandma riding in on the white horse. Which, if you think about it, sounds positively hilarious!
  • Do an End Run. In many cases, these life bumps involve WAITING. Learn to write in very short bursts: in the doctor or vet office; at the car repair shop; while you wait for the plumber. With smart phones and tablets, it’s easier than ever to make your writing portable. Or, if you prefer, a little notebook which fits in pocket or purse will do the job too. While you’re at it, see if there’s novel material in your circumstance. I have such a crazy life, there’s an endless supply of material in the antics happening all around me. You’ll probably read about some of the mishaps in my next book.
  • Read It or Weep. If you just cannot write in these tiny increments, you can read. A writer should always be reading something. Get an e-reader or always have a paperback handy for those unexpected delays. Don’t worry about plagiarizing or adopting a published author’s voice. If anything, you’re more likely to learn a good technique than copy the writer you admire. With some fortitude and a little creativity, you too can write through life’s little unexpected bumps. Write on, people!

About Linda S. Clare

I'm an author, speaker, writing coach and mentor. I teach both fiction and nonfiction writing at Lane Community College and in the doctoral program as expert writing advisor for George Fox University. I love helping writers improve their craft and I'm both an avid reader and writer of stories about those with wounded hearts.

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