When Life Gets in the Way…

Worried woman at laptopWe’ve all experienced it – the novel progresses reasonably well then life gets in the way and things grind to a halt. It may be a holiday, an illness, a family crisis or a major upheaval such as a house move. It’s not just our time but our whole preoccupation that’s focussed elsewhere. It’s bad enough trying to get back into the writing routine after a relatively short break but when things stretch out into weeks and months the greater the effort needed to find the enthusiasm to get back to work. That’s what it is – work – hard work and suddenly we find more and more excuses to hold us back.

The situation is compounded if the break happens around the time of the ‘soggy middle’ – the mid-point crisis when our enthusiasm for the novel has already begun to waver. That point when you have great doubts about the whole enterprise. The characters lack depth, the plot is going nowhere, the spark has gone and the language laboured and uninspired. The daily word count drops dramatically. Writing is no longer a joy. It reaches the point at which, to quote George Orwell – ‘writing a book is a horrible, exhausting struggle, like a long bout with some painful illness.’

However much I enjoy the writing even when things are going well, I like many others, find getting started each day isn’t easy. Is it’s any wonder that I find good excuses to do other things?

I have to confess that it’s been well over two months since I’ve even looked at the novel in progress! First came the trip to Japan. Our holidays are always full-on affairs – no sitting by the pool for us. We’re on the go from morning till night. What with the preparations and the sorting out when we get back – washing and catching up on all the things that I would have done while I was away – this can easily stretch to an extra week. This time it took a few days to get back into the swing of things and I’ll admit I did manage a couple of weeks of half-hearted writing before my course. There was a bit of preparation before the training days but, combined with time out for the research and putting together the presentation for the final stage, it’s been just over two months during which the latest novel didn’t get a look-in! Still the course is now done and dusted and I can add Destinations and Port Lecturer to my Cruise Lecture Repertoire. As you may have read on some of my previous blogs, I enjoy talking about writing and the writer’s life on board ship and as travel is the inspiration for my novels, the opportunity to increase my scope and spend more time cruising was one I couldn’t turn down.

Just to throw another spanner in the works – we’re having our kitchen refitted! My study has now become the temporary kitchen! That’s a whole other saga – let’s just say there was a two and a half week delay. One thing after another.

However, I’ve now run out of excuses so it’s back to ‘Blood Hits the Wall’ – not with a great deal of enthusiasm, I might add.

Now the good news! I wrote the above three days ago and now I’ve started things have gone exceptionally well! The ideas are flowing, as are the words. Obviously, subconsciously my brain has been mulling over the plot and getting me out of all those little holes I’d written myself into. I can’t say there haven’t been problems – just when I get into full flow, the workman comes through and asks for the electricity to be switched off which means closing down all my PC files. I tend to work with several open for reference. I can’t write on my laptop.

The moral is – don’t despair. Yes, it’s good to write everyday, but the sky won’t fall in if you have a forced break. Sometimes it even helps to think about something else entirely for a while. Keep telling yourself, it’s happened to you before (if you are writing your first novel – believe me it will happen with the next, and the next and the next) and you still ended up with a good product. Have faith. You are a writer.

Please tell me, it’s not just me! What are your experiences?

6 thoughts on “When Life Gets in the Way…

  1. You’re not alone, Judith! After carefully planning my schedule so this summer would be (almost) completely free for The Book, life got in the way. The more I fretted about losing time, the more trouble I had when I did finally sit down to write.

    Your post came just in time. I’m reminding myself that this project will get done when it gets done, and fretting just slows the process. So onward we trudge!

  2. Yes, I know that feeling too! I wonder if we feel it more keenly these days because writers are on show much more? Before the internet, we could work at our own pace – unless we had a publishing deal with deadlines, anyway! But now we have websites to update and blogs to write, and these get in the way of the normal rhythms of a writer’s life, with downtime as well as being “in the flow”. But like you say, if writing is what we do, we will get there in the end.

  3. I’ve never thought about it before but you have definitely have a point. The digital age has made a significant difference.
    I feel a lot more pressure since I started putting my books up as eBooks. My eBooks sell in far greater numbers than I ever dreamed of when the were only on sale as physical books, and with a greater readership comes a greater demand for more books. For every writer, your next book is always your best marketing tool!

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