Writing When Life Intervenes

Sometimes in spite of our best writing intentions, life gets in the way. This past week, a family member–my eldest son’s significant other, a 30 year-old named Nikki–suffered a major stroke. My plans immediately took a back seat as we fervently prayed, paced and figured out what to do next.

Nikki was Life-flighted to a Portland, OR ICU, where she had surgery to remove a blood clot lodged near her brain stem. While she is very fortunate to survive this event, like other stroke victims, her recovery will likely take time and require hard work. Since she and my son live paycheck to paycheck, I’ve set up a little fundraiser to help with the loss of her income and other costs. You can help support Nikki and Nate through this GoFundMe link. Thanks for your generous help. 



Writing Tip for Today: When life interrupts your writing plans–either with a medical emergency, a major life event or just a rotten cold–here are three ways to lessen both the hit on your productivity and your guilt:


If you can’t write, read. I’ve been sitting bedside and doing a lot of waiting in these past few days. These are times when I love my e-reader. I can switch books or even buy a new one without lugging around a heavy stack. I like to split my time between my TBR pile and writing technique books. Highlight, make notes or comment just as you would in the margins of a paper copy.


Many writers caution against falling into research quicksand, but you have to do it sometime, right? If you’re stuck in doctor’s office or hospital waiting rooms or in bed with a vaporizer steaming away at your side, use your laptop, tablet or even phone to check facts, history or trivia. Bookmark or save sites you wish to return to and copy paste into blank documents or save relevant articles to the cloud.


If you’re too frenzied or too sick to write, daydream about your story while you do less taxing but mindless chores. Dust while you decide if a character should die. Let your mind wander as you wash dishes. Vacuum or do handwork as you mull over plot problems or flesh out characters.  Ask yourself, “What if?” to deepen your character’s backstory or raise the stakes. A note of caution: If you daydream up a great story idea or plot point, try to jot down at least a few words that will help you remember later on. These life interruptions not only interrupt your writing life, the stress and worry can make it hard to remember details. 

When life gets between you and your writing life (and it will), do what you can. Read, research or let your imagination work out your stories while things are upside down. But promise yourself that the minute the coast is clear again, you’ll be back at your keyboard, getting word count on a regular basis. Annoyances and catastrophes can halt a writing life. But don’t let life destroy your writing altogether. That would be the biggest tragedy of all.

I’ll let you know how Nikki’s recovery goes. Thanks for giving! That link again:


Someone tells me the link is not working. Try this instead: http://ht.ly/Ug3130mZF5t

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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