Juggling

Most days I like to think I’m pretty damn good at keeping all my juggler’s balls in the air.  Home life.  Work life.  Writing life.  Social life.  Most writers, even successfully published ones, have day jobs they must structure their writing around.  Many of us have families.  All of us have unexpected joys and tragedies to deal with.  It’s part of life.

Those of us who’ve decided to make our writing a priority have devised ways to work it into to our daily lives, carving out spaces and times that we try to keep inviolate.  For some it’s a set time each morning or night, hewed from the dark hours before or after kids and spouses and pets and chores and day jobs claim our attention.  For others it’s a set word count for each day or week, or an office no one else can enter while we’re working, or a cafe we can slip away to.  In the usual ebb and flow of life, these strategies tend to work.

But what about when the unexpected happens?  A baby enters your life.  Someone close to you dies.  You get bad news about your health.  You move houses, or jobs, or spouses.

What do you do when the Big Life Decisions intervene, when that carefully constructed scaffolding gets bumped and comes tumbling down in a shower of ill-fitting pipes and jagged-edged 2x4s?  How do you keep up with your writing then?

Finding the time to write isn’t the only problem here.  So is focus, creativity, and space to think.  When you’re consumed by important things happening in your life (good or bad), how do you summon the mental discipline to focus on fictional worlds and characters, on the struggles of people you’ve given creative life to, but who – quite frankly – will still be there when your personal situation settles down?  Sometimes I can channel whatever is consuming me personally into my writing, other times all I do is hit a wall my mind flatly refuses to find a door through.

I don’t have answers here, just questions.  But I’d be willing to bet nearly every writer I know has faced these same problems at one time or another.  If anyone has insights or advice to share, I sure would welcome them!

And now…I’m off to use my mind lasers to cut a way through this damn wall and WRITE.