As I mentioned in a recent post, people ask me for advice. I’m sure this would drive some people crazy, but I don’t usually mind it. I can be a very opinionated person, and I’m willing to share. *smile*
When I get a great question I think could help others, I feature it in an “Ask Jami” post. Today, I want to share my answer to a new mommy who’s finding it impossible to write.
Whether we’re a parent or not, or a mother or a father, sometimes life drains our writing energy, so I think many of us can relate to her situation. By the time we’re done with our day job, taking care of our family, and maybe extra schooling or other activities, we can be too exhausted to write. We’ve all learned to deal with that problem occasionally, but what happens when it’s a longer-term issue?
What if we’re a new parent, and we’re looking at months—if not years—worth of poor sleep and limited time? What if layoffs at work mean we’ll be working double for the foreseeable future? What if we have a whole semester of a heavy load of classes?
We fight for free time for our writing, but when we sit down at the computer, our brain can be too fried to concentrate. We miss writing, so we don’t just want to set it aside, but we’re falling behind on our writing goals. And then we’re frustrated about missing those goals. In cases like those, we can get downright depressed by our inability to write.
Three Tips for When It’s Impossible to Write
Here’s the advice I gave to the new mommy, and maybe these tips can help us all:
- Take it easy on yourself.
When we can’t write because we’re insanely exhausted, we need to realize that this isn’t about us losing our writing mojo. Our ability to write will return when we get some sleep. So don’t stress about that “inability.” It’s not us. It’s our lack of sleep.
We can take the pressure off ourselves to get a certain number of things accomplished. Instead of creating word count goals, think of writing time as a reward for surviving the day.
- Expand your definition of “writing time.”
Explore what writing we can do. Feel like brainstorming a completely different story? Do that. Feel like writing out an interview with a character? Do that. Feel like looking at pretty pictures for where our story could take place? Do that.
In other words, this is our reward time, so we can do what we feel like doing, not what we think we should be doing to get back on track. The forward movement and accomplishments will come, so we shouldn’t feel like we need to force them.
Besides, if we take the time to work out miscellaneous details (rather than going for word count), maybe the word count will come faster, later, because we’ll have all that information at our fingertips. Just because our activity isn’t getting-words-on-a-page writing doesn’t mean the time is wasted.
- Change your writing process.
When we’re exhausted, our brain tends to be scattered and we can’t focus. Because of that problem, we might need to temporarily change up our writing process.
If we normally write linearly (writing scenes in chronological order), but our brain isn’t working in a straight line, then we’re making it harder on ourselves by sticking to our usual process. We’re asking our brain to not just focus on writing, but to focus on this one specific scene that it wasn’t thinking about, so now it has to refocus, and gosh, that’s just too much work. *smile*
Instead, if our brain is thinking about a scene from the end of the book, write that. Sure, we’re not there yet. Who cares? When our brain is scattered, we should write whatever it is focusing on so we’re working with it and not against it.
And if all that doesn’t help, remember that our lives are made of seasons. Right now might not be the best season for writing, but that doesn’t mean “writing season” won’t come back around. During our time crisis, we need to focus on what we can do instead of beat ourselves up about what we can’t do.
Has life ever gotten so crazy that you had to take a break from writing? How did you handle it? Do you get frustrated or depressed when you can’t write? Have you used any of these tips before? Do you have any tips to add?
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