When Life Gets in the Way of Your Writing

Welcome to July’s 'Writerly Witterings,' the monthly blog I write to support and inspire other writers.

This month has been a traumatic one with my dad seriously ill in hospital (thankfully he’s currently stable) which has meant work has slipped a little and my writing momentum has completely ground to a halt.

Before my dad took a turn for the worse, I was in the throes of writing one novel and editing another.  But life has a nasty habit of stopping us in our tracks and for many writers, difficult or just plain busy times steal creativity and the time available to carry on.

As a creative writing teacher, I’ve seen first-hand, the struggles that many of the writers I work with have to wrestle with.  There’s the huge life events like illness, bereavement and relationship breakdown.  Then there’s the other all-consuming events like moving house, job or providing family support.  Sometimes life simply gets in the way due to responsibilities with home and job.  Often writing time is the first thing to go.When Life Gets in the Way of Your Writing

I wanted to write this blog as a tribute to all my writers who’ve ever beaten themselves up for taking a few weeks off.  Or sent me apologetic emails for having to drop out of a course.  But life happens, and now, more than ever, I totally understand.

When I was going through my divorce a few years ago, much of my creativity drained from me.  I found I could only write poetry about what I was going through at that time.  Sometimes now, I get too busy with course planning and promotion or things I need to sort at home.

My dad’s illness has completely taken the wind out of my creative sails and obviously I’ve prioritised the most important thing at the moment – him.

So I’ve found that the characters in the novel I have been working on have stopped living within me.  I’ve left them alone for so long that I can’t hear their voices.

What can we do when important things in life get in the way of our writing?

  • Not feel guilty or berate ourselves! This just piles more pressure on.
  • Remember we are still writers but just taking a little break.
  • We can tell ourselves that we WILL get back into what we’ve been working on. This may mean reading it back through from the beginning when we’re ready again.
  • Remember that things change and nothing lasts forever.
  • We may still be able to take moments to escape into short stories or a chapter of a novel. The act of reading always develops us as writers.
  • We could journal about whatever it is that has paused our writing. This can be very therapeutic.  Or write a poem. (I haven’t worked on my novel but I’ve written three poems in the last couple of weeks.)
  • We can use spare moments to fill our ‘writing well.’ Like I always say, writers should carry a notebook.  No matter where you are, you can make sensory notes about your surroundings, or events and people around you.  (I’ve seen some right goings on lately in York Hospital.)
  • Acknowledge that at the moment things just are as they are.

Whilst being a writer is important and a vital part of who we are, it is only one part of us.

I sometimes see my ‘roles’ in life as being like a pizza, for example; mother, fiancé, family member, friend, poet, author, dog owner, etc, etc (I probably have about twelve slices altogether which make up my pizza!)

It’s logical that different slices are going to be cut larger at different times in our lives.  That’s possibly not the greatest analogy but it helps me!!

What gets in the way of YOUR writing?  Post into the comments or if you would like to book a free fifteen-minute telephone slot to chat about it with me, click here.  I am always happy to help a fellow writer.

Thanks for reading this month’s blog post and I’ll be back in August with the focus on ‘Writing from your Life.’

Bye for now and enjoy the sunshine.

With best wishes, Maria

PS  My classroom-based courses are now enrolling for September.  They are all Yorkshire based.  If you are outside this area, you may want to look at the distance learning versions of these courses.



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