Saturday, February 7, 2009

Blog Chain - Takin' a Step Back


This round the topic was chosen by our wonderful Terri. In the preceding link to this chain, Carolyn tackled the alternative topic that was posted, and Sandra will be up next. Terri would like to know:

Have you ever had anything cause you to step back from writing? If so, what was the cause and how long did it take you to get back into the swing of things? If not, do you have any advice for other writers about not letting life get in the way of writing?

My answer…..yep, yes, yeah, definitely, frequently, more often than I would like, totally, all the time, and FOR SURE!

Writing can be fun. I love it – it’s thrilling to create a world and characters and situations and to see how they all mesh into this wonderful conglomeration of ideas. But it is also work, hard work…it takes time and effort and energy….and sometimes I just don’t have any to spare.

How long it takes me to get back into it depends on what made me step back in the first place. Sometimes Real Life intervenes and I am just too busy with dentist appointments, parent/teacher conferences, sick kids, a neglected husband, and a dirty house to take the time to write. When that happens, I usually just step back for a few days, take care of what I need to take care of, and jump back in.

Now, all this applies to just the last couple years of my life. Before then, I didn’t consider myself a writer. I wanted to be a writer. But I didn’t think I was one yet. I had started more stories than I could count, for as long as I could remember. But I didn’t sit down to write a novel until just before I got married. So writing wasn’t something I really considered as a “must have” for my life. It was something fun I did when I had time. Now, I try much harder to schedule my writing time and I make sure it is a part of my life.

Once I got married, I moved, changed schools, jobs, states, and life got crazy. I didn’t pick it back up again until after my son was born.

Suddenly I was a stay at home mom in a tiny apartment that it didn’t take me too long to clean. So I started to work on my novel again while my son napped. Then my stepkids came to visit for Thanksgiving, I got out of the habit, I got pregnant with my daughter, she was born 2 months early…and before I knew it, two years had gone by. I thought about my novel every now and then. But I didn’t really miss writing.

Then I went back to school and started working on my masters on an accelerated program. I had a month break about halfway into the program, and I was so sick of schoolwork that I wanted to work on something just for fun. I brought out my trusty novel and finished it within the month. And then spent the next year editing…but that is a different story :D

What else will make me take a break for a bit? Sometimes, I get stuck on a scene or a plot twist. When this happens, it may only take me a day or even a few hours before something occurs to me. And sometimes it takes a month or two :D Depends on how bad I’m stuck :D

And then sometimes, I just get tired of it all. Maybe I had just received one too many rejections…maybe I’ve revised so many times I can’t stand to look at my manuscript one more time…or maybe it all just seems like too much effort and not enough reward. When this happens, I might stop writing for weeks. Just recently I went through this for a few months. I spent my spare time devouring every book I could find. I reread my favorite series, I watched movies, I listened to music and chatted with friends, and eventually, I got that itch again…the one that just makes my fingers ache to pound the keyboard. And I sat down one night and started writing again.

I still go days without writing sometimes, due to one thing or another, but I miss writing now…I think about it, I want to do it, and I try harder to make the time. I’m sure another slump will come along, but it too will pass.

Do you have any advice for other writers about not letting life get in the way of writing?

Honestly, no. Because let’s face it…sometimes life IS going to get in the way. There really isn’t anything you can do about it. If writing is important to you, you will come back to it. It might take a few weeks or even a few years before that happens. But if it is something you truly love, eventually you’ll find your way back.

I would advise not to berate yourself for time lost…don’t feel guilty about taking time out of your life to go back to writing, and don’t feel guilty for taking time from writing to deal with Real Life. You may not always be able to juggle Life and writing at the same time. But at some point, if writing is what you really want to do, you’ll ultimately find the time for both.

7 comments:

Archetype said...

Always love reading your posts, Michelle. I guess that sometimes we have to think of it not as life getting in the way of writing, but as this: life has to happen FOR us to write. Otherwise, what would we have to write about? :-)

Sandra said...

I agree with a lot of your points. Sometimes it is necessary to step back, and we shouldn't feel guilty about it.

Mary Lindsey said...

My favorite part is your closing:

"I would advise not to berate yourself for time lost…don’t feel guilty about taking time out of your life to go back to writing, and don’t feel guilty for taking time from writing to deal with Real Life. You may not always be able to juggle Life and writing at the same time. But at some point, if writing is what you really want to do, you’ll ultimately find the time for both."

Here's to finding time, Michelle! Great post.

Christine Fonseca said...

Wonderful post Michelle...thanks

Kate Karyus Quinn said...

I agree with Mary that the part at the end about not berating yourself for not being able to do it all is important. I definitely struggle with this sometimes.

TerriRainer said...

Oh dear God, you are so my twin!!!!!! I swear, every time I learn a new tid-bit about how you write now or how you wrote your first novel, it mirrors my experiences so much it's freaky.

Great post BTW!

:) Terri

H. L. Dyer said...

There are more than a few of those "no side of the bed is right" days. *snort*