Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Writerly Wednesday: When ‘Real Life’ Interferes With the ‘Writing Life’

Before we dive into today’s post, I just want to remind everyone that next week on the blog I’ll be having a contest based on a super-fun writing lesson I learned from Across the Universe. I have a fabulous fellow author who will be joining us and judging entries for two awesome prizes!

Needless to say, putting together another awesomely-fun Writing Lessons from the Movies post was just so not in the cards this past weekend. And so that brought me to this wonderful topic that I wanted to talk about with all of you: What happens when ‘real life’ interferes with the ‘writing life.’

As writers, we have all worked incredibly hard to balance our personal lives, professional ‘real world’ lives, and writing lives to the point where each can coincide together in harmony with one another. For some of us that means sticking to a strict schedule complete with one or two hour blocks of family time, writing time, cooking/dinner time, and so on and so forth. And each of those blocks of time gets squeezed into the few hours we have after we get home from a grueling 8-hour day at the office.

But then suddenly a money wrench gets thrown into the mix – and every now and then it’s a pleasant monkey wrench – and we end up wanting to scream our faces off like this:

So what’s a writer to do in those situations?!? Here’s my 2-word answer:


Example: I have an 89-year-old great-grandmother’s who’s been in a nursing home for over a year now and hospice has just been called. Needless to say, we’ve been told she’s has about 3 months as her body is just utterly exhausted. So on Friday night, the hubs and I went straight to see her after work. I’m talking no butt-in-the-chair-for-5-minutes-then-hit-the-road kind of thing. After we visited with her we had dinner with my grandparents which entailed some wonderful conversation (most between me and my grandmother about my writing journey – I sooo enjoy her support), which in turn meant not getting home until about 9:30. Follow this up with waking up on Saturday with a major headache and a wedding I just had to get to (when your best friend from high school gets married, you go, no excuses!). Followed by a visit to the grocery store after cancelling a get-together with your bestie (with glistening eyes because you miss her so much) because you just can’t get rid of that nagging headache. By the time the headache went away, it was 11pm and I was tired-silly to where I could do nothing for the rest of my sleepless night. Then on Sunday I had gobs and gobs of homework for a Deep Editing class I’m taking with the wonderful Margie Lawson, followed by submission to an editing partner, editing said partner’s homework and sending that back, then revising my homework based on her critique, then finally posting the homework on the forum. All the while washing the dishes and doing the laundry. WHEW!!!!

See what I mean?


How do you do that?!?

  1. Realize that friends and family should always come first. I learned this lesson at my current day job because I have the best boss in the entire world who understands and constantly reminds me that my family is above all else. My friends follow right behind them because well, they are my family as well. These are the people who are going to push you, drive you, comfort you, laugh with you, cry with you, and all-around be there no matter what! Because of that, they should always come first. And there are those occasional times where you must sacrifice some time with them in order to hone your craft or meet a deadline, but that’s why they’re your family and nearest and dearest: they understand your dreams, hopes and ambitions and understand they will need to be sacrificed every now and then. <—Notice I said ‘every now and then’ – not all the time!
  2. Recognize that while you think you can do it all, in all actuality…you can’t (at least not at once). While I admit that being referred to as Wonder Woman at work sounds kinda nice, I in no way, shape or form let that go to my head. Why? Because Wonder Woman was a fictitious character. If you’re able to get everything done in one night that you want then I bow to you and kiss the ground you walk on. Having more that you want to do and have to complete simply means that you are never going to have a boring moment in your life – and that’s enough for me. Sitting down, prioritizing, and managing your time will help with this endeavor. It will assist you in realizing that while you can’t do it all at once, you can definitely fit into your busy life, one small chunk at a time.
  3. Literally BREATH and RE-BOOT. On Sunday night I literally laid in the bed, took a deep breath, then mentally re-booted my mind by saying to myself, “Tomorrow you will get back on track. Tomorrow you can pick back up where you left off at total world domination. Tomorrow is the first day of a brand new week and just because you didn’t get to do everything you wanted to do this weekend doesn’t mean it won’t still be there tomorrow, and the next day, and the next day.”  If you’re being 110% honest with yourself then you will actually feel as though your brain is re-booting and prepping for the new day ahead of you.

So there you have it: What to do when ‘real life’ gets in the way of the ‘writing life.’

Ever had one of those days/nights/weekends where the ‘real’ stuff gets in the way of your fantasy/imaginary life? What have you done to calm yourself after freaking-out and realizing it just isn’t gonna happen for you this time around? Have you ever tried the ‘BREATH. RE-BOOT’ method?
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