Writing During Upheaval


Schedule? To paraphrase the Dowager Lady Crawley of Downton Abbey, “What’s a ‘schedule?” Last week I was in New Jersey, then flew home via Atlanta (yes, NJ to Georgia is the very direct route to Ohio). Hubby followed a few days later and remained here for 36 frantic hours before he flew out on a business trip for this entire week. Next week, he’ll be here 24/7 disrupting my life working from home at the desk beside mine.

The entire past year has been one drama after another. Hands from every which way grabbing at me, demanding my time and attention. And yet, I’ve managed to write. It hasn’t always been easy, and for me, the hardest bits are often writing through the easier parts. Like now. The temps are single digits out there. Yesterday saw all of 12 F before falling to … I don’t want to think about it. I had to go to the bank and the post office. Yes, had to, for the impending move stuff. (Ugh.) When I got back, all I wanted to do was curl up and wish myself in Thailand next to hubby. I wanted to mope at the unfairness of his being in a warm place while I slowly froze to death on my sofa (well, not quite, but I was feeling dramatic). I browsed Google Earth, looking at images of Thailand, blue seas and palm trees, which did not help one bit.

It’s too cold to write, I told myself. And, even with fingerless gloves, my office is cold. But no one says I have to stay there when no one else is home. So I moved to the dining room table and I worked on editing a story. I’ll edit more today, finishing that story and moving on to the next.

It’s easy to sit around telling yourself “I’m too busy” or “It’s too cold” or whatever. It’s much harder to haul yourself to the chair and put the brain to work. But if I waited for the stars to align, for my creativity to peak, the weather and my health to hold steady, an interesting idea to nibble at my sleeve, and the schedule to hold firm–all at once of course–I’d never get any writing (or editing) done.

There are limits, of course. When I’m sick, I’m sick; that’s it, no writing. And I know that typing on a short flight, especially if there’s any turbulence, just isn’t going to happen. I take a notepad and pen instead, giving in to the inevitable of who I am. And yes, even I take days off ‘just because’: because it’s too beautiful outside to ignore, because the dog is in her last days, because the well inside me is dry and I need a day to refill it. But these aren’t every day, they don’t come every month. It takes time to identify a true ‘because’ day from a ‘wimping-out’ day trying to disguise itself, but I’ve gotten pretty good at it now. Like yesterday.

And writing in spite of the pull of inertia lubricates the well, oils the cogs of the brain. One day’s writing leads to more days of writing. And eventually writing becomes something else we just squeeze in around the upheavals that define life, like brushing your teeth before bed. You just do it, you know?

And one last thing. Sometimes, these blog posts that sound so peppy? They’re my way of giving myself a pep talk. I hope they work for you, too.

How do you deal with upheaval vs writing? Any tricks to share?

5 thoughts on “Writing During Upheaval”

  1. I think part of it is giving into the upheaval. Write when you can, as much as you can. But when life gets in the way, sometimes you have to let it. I think when you start scheduling it in, writing can lose its magic.

    1. There’s truth to the fact that writing can lose its magic if overly-scheduled. But without some schedule, no writing gets done. The tricky part is finding that balance and flying. For myself, I know I need to push myself to write through some initial discomfort. Once I do, I will enjoy it and the writing will flow.

  2. There are but a few important things in life, your loves & your passions. You are 1 of lucky bunch to have your love & passion be the same, your writing. An exciting life is never the placid pools between rapids, but is always the rapids. Enjoy & engage the rapids for they make you the person you want to be. No one ever relished the person they became by floating through the placid pools. The person who makes it through the rapids is the envy of us all!! Enjoy the water.

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