Thursday, September 20, 2012

In the Midst of Distractions

(Think: Writing vs. Life)

We all know the importance of writing daily. At least I do.

Creative writers have it pounded into their heads all the time; we should write something, anything – good or bad – daily. It’s just like working out, building muscle.

You won’t win any weight-lifting competitions if you only go to the gym every other week. 

But every now and then, Life (think: sumo-wrestler sized) lumbers along while you’re in the middle of word sprinting or working on your novel (think: pushups), and it just sits on you, making it impossible to keep going (think: not a pretty picture).

Case-in-point: this whole past week for me.

Basically, I took an unintended vacation from social media, blogging, and yes, writing.

Picture this: I was coming to the end of a personal challenge (which was to finish my novel or write approximately 25,000 words on my novel in the span of fourteen days), had just passed the 50k mark and was on fire for my novel, being within a few thousand words of typing “the end.”

But then, amid my already busy life, I decided to explore a career opportunity and decided that I was going to take a job at another newspaper in another city, far-far-away from where I live now. I grew up in the area where I’m living now and I felt ready to take on a challenge and wanted to advance my career. I’ve never lived anywhere else.

This was going to be huge (think: life-changing) for me. 

So, in the span of a week, I talked on the telephone with this other newspaper, I traveled for a job interview to this other town and the job was in. Then I talked to my boss and editor and prepared to leave behind the paper that gave me my start; my editor even wrote a column in our publication about me leaving (wishing me luck). Then I packed my apartment, sought out housing in the other town, and called my landlord to let her know I’d be moving out – you know, made all the arrangements.

And then I ended up having second thoughts.

And decided not to go after all.

Yeah, how are you supposed to concentrate on finishing your novel when you’ve got all that going on?

As of the writing of this post, the first draft of my work in progress is yet unfinished. But, it’s so close to being done that it’s not even funny. I think, literally, less than five thousand words. I’m not sure, that’s just a guess. But either way, that’s still close.

For those interested in knowing, my personal fourteen-day challenge was a success because I wrote well over 25,000 words in that timeframe, although I didn’t get to “the end” then.

But the point I want to make is that sometimes life gets in the way. And we stress out and feel the need to put the writing away for a little while so we can focus on one thing at a time.

And that’s okay as long as you get back to writing as soon as things settle down.

Could I have finished my novel with all that distraction going on last week? Sure. But the added stress in my life would have shown in the end product and I’d have soon come to detest the story because of it.

What do you think? Is it better to put your writing away when faced with a life-changing decision or to keep writing with a no-matter-what-type attitude?


  1. Great post Amanda. I am struggling with the same question. I am so stressed out about both my job and my writing and my writing has suffered. I still have some time to finish my WIP by the end of the month which was my goal, but I have a project at work that is mentally exhausting. I don't know the answer, but relieved to hear someone else shares the same problem. I will look forward to seeing other comments.

    1. I hear you Sydney! Thanks for stopping by - as always, you're a great encouragement to me! I have no idea how you manage to get out 50k at every turn for a writing challenge!

  2. Wow! What a week for you! Congratulations on exploring your options and not being afraid to follow your instincts even when they go against your plans. AND congratulations on your major writing victory!

    I think it's a great IDEA to write (or design or whatever creative endeavor you strive to do!) every day, all the time. And I also think that life is about balance (and life is full of sumo-sized wrestler moments and seasons) so you have to keep writing as a goal while living your life being led by the spirit - which always leads to balance. It's the balancing act and your experiences that add fuel and sparks to all those words flowing out of you!

    Structure and rules are helpful and needed but when they turn to legalism (think - I must, no matter what!) they hinder and supress us and our gifts. The gift of grace is much better!

    And just look at all the great words that came from your week of life! Awesome! ....not that i didn't miss you on twitter of course ;)

  3. My, you had an intense week! I think it's prefectly normal for life to sometimes get in the way of our writing. As long as it doesn't become a habit, you'll be fine :)

    1. That's how I feel about it too, I think. Thanks for stopping by!


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