When it’s hard to write
I don’t know how many of you know this but I now live in Kyiv, Ukraine. You might have heard about it recently in the news?
About 120,000 Russian troops are now surrounding the country on three sides and more are coming to both the Russian-Ukraine border and being welcomed into the country to the north, Belarus. Next week they’ll be carrying out military exercises there that some say are a precursor to a Russian invasion into Ukraine. And what am I doing as I watch my neighbors across the hall, who work for the US Embassy, pack up and leave? Why, I’m writing my novel, of course. What else would I be doing? Oh, and editing. I’ve got a lot of coaching and editing work at the moment and have just finished up a few formatting jobs as well and have more planned for next week.
Another author posted on Facebook that she was having trouble concentrating on her writing because her mother has become ill and she is her primary caregiver. She’s having a hard time finding the time, the energy, and the will to write her novels. She asked for any thoughts from other authors on what she might do in order to make her word count goals and get her book in to her publisher on time.
Most of the people who responded told her to write to her publisher and tell them that she needed to push her deadline back. There was a general agreement that the number one thing a writer in a difficult personal situation should do is to take care of themselves and their family.
I cannot stress enough what excellent advice this is!
I know that if things escalate here, I should not worry about writing. (I’ve already written to my publisher and told her that I will do everything in my power to get her my book by the deadline, but to be aware that this may be taken out of my control. She was very understanding.)
Other people offered the advice that an author in a difficult situation should set a small daily word goal for herself, but that the goal should be as little as 100-200 words. If she works by a time goal, aim for 10 minutes. Pages? Just one or two. The point is, if you want to write because your mind is nagging at you to do so, make it as little as you think you can feasibly accomplish. Don’t push yourself. Don’t feel bad if you can’t write more than 50 words or 100. It will take longer, but your book will still get written and you’ll write more when you can.
One idea, which I have always supported, is to get a writing buddy or accountability coach (I offer this service as well). Having someone to report your numbers to is incredibly satisfying and motivating. Having someone tell you every day, every week, however often you need it, that it’s perfectly fine that you’ve only written 100 words is very freeing. Having someone on your side who will support you and encourage you is priceless. And they will celebrate with you if you still manage to get more done.
And finally, there are those of us who are just oddballs who will continue to write no matter what. Yes, this is me. I’m the sort who would prefer to escape into my novel than face the real world. If life around me is going to fall apart, if the Russians invade, or even if they simply turn off our heat and electricity, I’m prepared to escape to the 19th century (when they didn’t even have heat and electricity) through the writing of my novel. I’ve got paper and pens. I’ve got my plot outline printed out. I’m ready to sit holed up either in my apartment or elsewhere and write my way through any situation. I find comfort in my writing. It’s a world of my own creation where I am in complete control.
So, if you find yourself in a difficult situation whether in a potential war zone or in the emotionally taxing situation of dealing with ill family members who need your care and attention, don’t worry, don’t fret, and don’t let your guilty conscience make you feel bad for taking care of yourself and your family first. You are what matters most and don’t let anyone–even yourself–tell you otherwise.