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When it’s okay not to write

April 24, 2012

It’s a rite of spring around here. At some point, the volume of work, child-related activities, parents down for the winter, FWA work, and the other things that come with life (“What do you mean our property tax check bounced? That should come out of escrow.”) build up to a terminal point. You can insert the vagaries of your life for mine. Something’s got to give.

Unfortunately, that something is sometimes writing. As I write this, I haven’t touched my work in progress in more than a week, and the way the schedule appears to unfold in front of me, the next two weeks aren’t looking very promising. (Baseball practice or games in six of eight days–for at least two hours a rip.)

Sure writers write. If you really really want it, you’ve got to dig deeper and bring it. Find a way, he said with grim certainty. Ass in chair and all that.

Writing is important, to be sure. But so’s sanity. And the ability to manage the load without turning into Faye Dunaway ranting about wire hangers.

In other words, semetimes other things come first. And that’s okay. You’re allowed to have a family and a job and other obligations without being a bad writer. If you take a break for a little while because you have to squeeze in some other stuff that’s temporarily more important, it doesn’t mean you’ve betrayed the craft and the people who’ve helped you along the way.

The real trick is the balance–balancing your desire to create with the need to be other things to other people from time to time.

So if life’s in the way, and you have to take a break, here are some things to remember:

  1. You have to start again. Take some time, look at your calendar and give yourself a goal of when to start again.
  2. Squeeze in a little writing once in a while, even if it’s just ten minutes writing dreck in your work in progress. It’s still writing and it still counts.
  3. Give yourself a break. Don’t kick yourself. Just make a commitment to squeeze it in when you can.
  4. Take something with you and write while you’re waiting. If you have a tablet, that’s a great way to work on your writing. Most tablets can use apps that approximate a work processor experience. And there’s always paper and pen.
  5. Stay connected with your writery people. You are, after all, still a writer. You’re just an insanely busy writer who swore this year would be different, then volunteered to coach your son’s Little League team.

Okay, that last one’s me, but something similar could apply to you.



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