Writing Through Drama and Chaos

At this time of year, many writers—even those doing NaNoWriMo—must deal with personal and family drama and chaos. How does this impact your writing life?

Writing Tip for Today: Here are a few ways to both weather and use the drama and chaos of the holiday season:

Jealous Families

They say home is where they have to let you in, but for many writers those sticky relationships make for ambivalence or outright avoidance. One way your loved ones may push back against your writing goals is through snarky comments about how “selfish” you are to keep your writing schedule.

Especially for writers with small children, the insistence of toddlers and spouses to pay attention to them can eat into your writing production. Thankfully, these days we have portable computers, enabling us to lock the bathroom door while we write.

If your loved ones try to lure you away from your keyboard (to find lost items, cook or otherwise wait on your kids or significant other), try setting a timer for them. Explain (in a kind voice!) that you’ll be available when the buzzer sounds. Before that, leave Mommy/Daddy the heck alone! Male writers may not deal with these same problems, but there are many ways to interrupt a writer. Be assertive not aggressive.

Write on the Fly

Not all writers have the luxury to write “in the zone.” Today, I’m writing while some Thanksgiving dishes are baking ahead of T-Day. Multi-tasking should be part of your writing skills—learn to write in shorter bursts and when you must attend to life, type in a brief note so you’ll remember where you were headed next in the manuscript.

If you are the family chauffeur, tap away on your phone or tablet while the kid gets her braces adjusted. At the very least you might be able to scroll the internet as research while you wait for the car to get its new tires.

Try recording your ideas into your phone if you’re stuck at some appointment. Some writers do this to solve plot problems, enrich character backgrounds or to record edits or fixes needed on the work-in-progress. If all else fails, read the very best work you can find while you wait.

Family drama & chaos can help you write more effective stories. Just don’t name names.

Be Real-ish

During busy seasonal times, it’s easy to lean too hard in one direction or the other. Don’t abandon all holiday cheer unless you’re on a tight deadline. But you don’t have to give up writing entirely, either.

Set reasonable goals, be assertive with loved ones and try to balance your word count with the demands of the season. Don’t forget that high drama or chaos often helps writers create more realistic and emotion-packed stories. Incorporating family drama and chaos into your work may help you keep from blowing your top—and write better, more effective stories, novels or memoir. Happy Thanksgiving to all my friends in the USA!

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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