"There is more treasure in books than in all the pirate's loot on Treasure Island." - Walt Disney

Friday, October 14, 2011

Writing Through Adversity

Thank you all for your prayers and well wishes. Again, I apologize if you had a scheduled interview, guest post or book review. I will get with you individually as things continue to return to normal.

My daughter is doing better and we are all home now. A couple of weeks ago she got a staph infection and the antibiotics they put her on were too much for her. She went into acute kidney stress. We spent a week in two different hospitals since we eventually transferred to a specialist. About the time they released her, I developed an ear and throat infection (something I think I caught in the hospital and am still fighting). Now, we are all exhausted and trying to find a way back into a comfortable routine.

As writers, we are constantly interrupted by life’s ups and downs and are forced to adjust our timelines and projects. Some circumstances knock us down longer than others and we lose irreplaceable writing time. These past few weeks have left me exhausted (thanks to little sleep and lots of stress) and the last thing I felt like doing was writing. A few years ago, I lost everything we owned in a hurricane induced flood. Life happens whether we are ready or not.

So how do we move past the interruptions, regain focus and continue writing?

1.   Take care of yourself. Most of us are so busy taking care of other people and projects that we neglect ourselves. Take time to heal and become whole again.

2.   If you can’t write, then read about the craft. Read books and magazines, meet with other writers online or in person to keep a writing connection or critique someone’s work and it will strengthen your writing.

3. Make realistic goals. If you can’t write a chapter, try to write 100 words. This might be the next scene in your WIP or you may simply develop a new character – make a list of his/her goals, motivations and conflicts.

4. If you’re published or have accepted an assignment, communicate with your editor or agent about your situation. Don’t wait until you’ve missed a deadline.

5. Look for joy and inspiration in unexpected places. A fresh outlook or new location for writing can restore energy and the creative muse.

How have you written through adversity?


Abby said...

I love this post. I am sorry to hear of all that you have been through though. I am glad that you are home and in recovery mode. I love your tips and pointers. I don't think I have anything to add. Just don't give up and don't stop. Keep going.

Anonymous said...

I can truly empathize with you, Sylvia, as you know (my daughter in the rehab hospital for a year and a half). I would stay away from hospitals if I could because I know you can "pick up" things there. Sounds like you did! Stress, too, will make us very susceptible to all the bugs.

What a lot you've been through! It's almost impossible to write under such extreme conditions. I managed to do it 30 years ago during my first divorce. But I was 30 years younger! I only managed to jot a few things in a notebook when my daughters had their accident. I was 46 at that time, and still relatively young.

But even if you can't get any words down on paper, adversity is good in one way: it gives necessary experience that we can use in some way in our later writing.

So first, take care of yourself, and definitely don't worry about blogging. *I* had to cut down on this--one post a week now, and then during the week I try to visit others blogs as much as I have time and energy for. I have *made* time lately to do some solid writing. Some days not much, sometimes I miss a day, but at least I'm making progress.

That was so kind of you to stop by and respond short and sweet. If you write long comments like I often do, you won't get around to very many blogs! So three cheers, and I do hope that infection is soon gone, and that your dear daughter is doing better!!!
Ann Best, Author of In the Mirror, A Memoir of Shattered Secrets

Anonymous said...

Oh heck yeah, I've dealt with adversity. Not health-wise (thank God), but I lost my home (flood) in late June and I've been operating out of my son's dining room or hotel rooms for nearly four months. You just keep plugging along and do what you can. It's day to day. Planning ahead - sometimes - does no good. You never know when something or someone is going to throw a wrench into your works.

Julie Daines said...

Almost two years ago, my sister was diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumor. She died 7 weeks later. I spent almost that whole time living at her house and taking care of her seven children.

That definitely set me back in my writing. But, when I did find time to write, it was a catharsis for me. Getting into my story, a different time and place, let me get my mind off of everything that was happening in my life.

Writing also helped me through the healing process afterwards. It was one of the few things in my life that hadn't changed.

Sorry about your troubles and I hope you are all feeling well soon.

Tonja said...

That's great that your daughter is doing better. I hope you are feeling better too.

I loved how you turned this into a positive post.

anthony stemke said...

Lovely post. Glad you are rebounding.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Sylvia .. just glad to know you're both home .. look after you both - easier said than done I know. Wishing you all the best in the coming weeks as you both regain full strength ..

Life is difficult at times .. and taking a positive stance encourages you on .. things will definitely improve .. with thoughts - Hilary

Bish Denham said...

I'm so glad you and your daughter are feeling better. Take some time to be still and breathe.

When life is difficult, I often find that journaling is the only kind of writing journalism I can do.

jan said...

The roots of our writing are anchored in the fertile dark soil of pain. It takes a long time to grow the tree where our words eventually blossom.

Kittie Howard said...

Sylvia you've all been through a major, very serious ordeal. I'm relieved your daughter is recovering and is resting at home. Please, please rest as much as you can and take care of yourself - yes, you probably caught the infection at the hospital...Oh, but there's been so much going on - HUGS!

Kari Marie said...

"Life happens whether we are ready or not."

So true. Thanks for the tips. I'm glad your daughter is better and I hope you feel better soon.