Author Toolbox Blog Hop: The Real Life Blues

It’s time for the Author Toolbox Blog Hop! The hop takes place the third Wednesday of every month (minus November/December) and focuses on the sharing of resources and learning tools for authors.

Stop by the hop page and check out all the participants and their posts this month! Also check out #AuthorToolboxBlogHop on Twitter.

Life Isn’t Easy

This month for the blog hop, I thought I’d tackle something I’m going through at the moment: real life getting in the way of writing. Unless you’re a professional writer (meaning you make most or all of your income through writing) you’ve probably had the “day job” block your creative flow. Most writers, I think, have dealt with the trials of life bludgeoning them in their writing kneecaps: a job, kids, family issues, illness, tragedies, stress, and all those other nasty curveballs life likes to throw at us to knock us off our feet. By the time we get a moment to write we’re too physically and/or mentally exhausted to make the words come. What we’re slogging through not only makes us tired, it makes our brains sluggish as well.

My job has been difficult for the past month or so and it’s draining my resources. The good news is this will end eventually, but not until sometime in June. Until then, my focus will continue to be off, I’ll continue to resent that I don’t have enough time/mental capacity to write, and I’ll continue to be bitter, feeding into this awful angry, non-creative cycle I’m stuck in right now. Sounds fun, doesn’t it?

Well, it’s not.

I’ve decided to try to come up with a game plan to make this, if at least not better, then more tolerable–and maybe, if you’re stuck in the mud too as real life continues to dump more dirt on your head, you can use it as a shovel. I’ve come up with a few ideas that might help me wedge writing in around all the chaos:

  • Schedule time. I’m not a scheduler, so this is hard for me. I tend to write when I write, and I don’t really like to make a rigid structure out of it. If you do, you’re already ahead of me on this one! If I know I’m going to have a stretch of downtime where I don’t have to focus on anything else, I can pencil my writing in there. Will I want to write when I get to that time? I might not, but they say the best way out of a rut is to do things anyway, even if you grumble and groan, and eventually they get easier. Just like exercise–it hurts at first and you feel resistance, but eventually your muscles get stronger and the workout easier.
  • Break the writing down into smaller chunks. This is also hard for me, because when I write I tend to write a lot, but I don’t have the time or energy for that right now. If I promise myself I’ll do smaller portions, eventually those will all add up to something big, even if it’s not as fast as I’m used to. And that’s okay! I need to give myself reasonable assignments and goals during this tough time. I can write only 1,000 words or edit one chapter and still feel accomplished.
  • Be consistent. This is a hard thing to maintain when life is a whirlwind, but consistency also makes the wind feel less like it’s trying to knock you over. When I tell myself “I’m going to do X and Y on these days, and I’m not going to waver from that,” it helps things feel a little more stable. Hopefully, this will also give me small things to look forward to. Routine is comforting, especially when the rest of your life is out of whack.
  • Stick to one project. If you’re like me, I always have several writing projects going on at once. That’s just how I am. If you don’t do the same thing this bullet point won’t help you and I envy your dedication! I definitely like to juggle several balls at once, but right now that’s making me not do ANYTHING because it all feels so complicated and overwhelming on top the other difficulties in my life. During this time I’m going to try to focus on one thing only and get it done, bit by bit. At least then I won’t just lay around crying about how I’m not getting anything done.
  • Don’t beat yourself up. This is the most important task for me, and one I really, really need to take to heart. Is the world going to end if I don’t get another book written by the end of summer? Of course not. Is everyone I know going to hate me and refuse to ever speak to me again if I don’t stick with my writing right now? Why on earth would they! Are the writing police gonna show up at my house and arrest me if I don’t get some writing done every day? The writing police don’t even exist! Or do they…

I’m trying to be easier on myself right now, as well as trying to get my brain to shut up about how I’m being lazy and not taking care of my muses. Wish me luck!

How do you deal with life when it gets in the way of your writing? Any tips or tricks?

33 thoughts on “Author Toolbox Blog Hop: The Real Life Blues

  1. Good luck with trying to squeeze some writing in. It looks like you have a solid plan, so you should be able to make it work.

    Like

  2. I have had to learn to break writing into smaller chunks too and it’s so painful. I think the key for me is quiet and schedule. I hate it
    But it is the only way with my exhausting day job and my two small kids 🙂

    Like

    1. Life really gets in the way, doesn’t it? But the heartening thing is–we persist! That must mean something. Thank you!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I can see you still have a sense of humor about writing. I think the imaginary writing police have just arrived at my door! I didn’t even know they existed, but here they are.

    Like

    1. Hahahaha don’t tell them where I live! Thanks!

      Like

  4. Wow Megan, this feels like the exact same plan I set up last summer to help me through some really tough times. Are we sharing a brain? I am sorry life is kicking you but if you even manage some success in this, remember to count it as a true win. Pushing through when things are overwhelming is a far more difficult task so reward yourself accordingly. I believe you can do this. Best of luck and I hope things at work improve even if it’s only a little bit.

    Like

    1. Thank you very much! I’m glad to hear you got through your own awful time with this–that gives me hope it will end!

      Like

  5. My kneecaps still haven’t fully recovered from the bludgeoning they received last month. Re breaking writing into smaller chunks, I totally do this! When I’m doing nanowrimo (or writing everyday any other month), I try to write for time chunks, because to hit a thousand plus word count, I find it easier to divide that into 2-4 hours, and knock off a chunk at a time in between breaks, during which I can replenish the brain power I’ve just drained to a degree. Great post!

    Like

    1. I guess we have to learn to take little bites when life is hard! I’d rather do it slow than not at all, of course. Thanks so much!

      Like

  6. I can definitely relate to this.
    Many times at work, despite earning money (which is important of course), I can’t help but feel like I’m wasting time that could be spent on writing.
    But I also think it’s good training for the future. The truth is writing won’t always be easy, and if I can write when I’m tired, frustrated, and otherwise “not in the best state”, I know I’m ready.
    Anyone can do something for a few hours, when everything else is calm, quiet, and peaceful, but life is rarely that neat.
    Maybe the results are not quite what we want, but simply continuing is its own victory.
    I definitely believe in scheduling (loosely), and regular segmentation.
    I try to write every day, with the understanding that some Fridays, Saturdays, and/or Sundays may be a bit busy, but they shouldn’t all be busy.
    If I can put in 1 hour, or even an hour and a half, each week day, that can be half of my weekly quota by itself.
    I definitely think that it’s less about “one really good day/session” and more about the routine. By writing regularly, the ideas stay fresh in my mind, so even while I’m doing other things, those ideas are quietly bubbling away, and every so often I get an unexpected burst of insight and creativity.
    Patience is definitely key. We don’t get to decide how fruitful our time is, only whether or not (and how) we spend it.

    One thing I like to do is keep a weekly chart of how much time I spend on writing, and what I accomplished with that time.
    That way I can tally it all up and remind myself that I did accomplish something, and that’s something to be proud of.

    Like

    1. This is very good, solid, and practical advice. Life will never turn out the way we want it and give us peace and quiet all the time–so we have to make the best of it. Thank you for the inspiring words, you lifted my spirits a bit, for real!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Thank you. That’s most kind, and heartening. 🙂

        Like

  7. Your suggestions are good ones. I’ve been there. I know how hard it is to balance the “must dos” with the “I’d like to dos.” Being retired from my day job, I have more time now to focus on the “I’d like to dos.” It’s a trade off. I’d rather by busier and younger. 🙂

    Like

    1. It’s definitely not fun! I’m happy for you–maybe I’ll get there someday! Thank you!

      Like

  8. I know what you mean by being too mentally wiped out to have any creativity left. I do try for some shorter writing times. Half a page is better than nothing.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Absolutely. Because that “nothing” haunts you no matter how tired you are. Thank you!

      Like

  9. I know that feeling is tough. Great post and tips. Hope you find your sweet spot of balance. Best Wishes & Happy Writing.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Good tips! I’ve been trying to do 20-minute word sprints which seems to be helping to an extent. All the best juggling everything and making writing happen.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you! Sounds like some advice I’ll have to try out.

      Like

  11. I’m a “professional writer,” meaning I don’t have a day job because I’m disabled, but I don’t really receive income from writing. At all. Despite that, I have a lot of things blocking my creative flow, too. Actually, that’s been my trouble for a long time…first, it started out as depression. I’m working my way back to writing. Your tips are great. 🙂

    Like

    1. Oh man, that sounds really awful and I’m sorry! I hope you can find your way back to writing and things get better for you. Thank you very much!

      Like

  12. Good luck with your game plan! If you can, update and let us know how it went sometime after June 🙂 I’m interested to hear if it made the stress more manageable.

    Like

    1. Thank you! And I definitely will!

      Liked by 1 person

  13. The smaller chunks idea is where I live. Have goals that seem too large? Break them down into doable pieces to find success. It works for me. 🙂

    Anna from elements of emaginette

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s a great idea–now if only I can be content with it. Thank you!

      Liked by 1 person

  14. Working towards a deadline while real life intrudes isn’t easy — I’ve used all of your suggestions above to get things done in a timely manner. Just yesterday I looked at the opening page of the novel I’m working on and I’m like “only five hundred words? Are you serious?”. I needed to remind myself that small steps will get me to the end. It’s worked with my other projects this year when I didn’t think anything will get done… But only working on one project at a time just doesn’t feel right! Good luck. I’m sure you’ll find a way to get your writing done.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s really hard when you look at it and it seems like so little has been done–but every little bit eventually completes the whole picture! I hope things get easier for you. Thank you for the encouragement!

      Liked by 1 person

  15. Great tips! Thanks for sharing. 🙂

    Like

Leave a Comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

w

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this:
search previous next tag category expand menu location phone mail time cart zoom edit close