Do you have a fallback writing plan when life bites you in the ass?

I’d like to open by saying that I’ve put a few challenging weeks behind me recently. I’m getting older. Mom and dad are getting older. My friends are getting older. We’re starting to complain about hip problems and needing stronger prescriptions for glasses and orthotics and crap. The outlook hasn’t hit dismal yet, but there are “challenges” that are significantly different than the “challenges” I experienced ten years ago. [pullquote align=”left”] Do you bottom out if you don’t touch The Work for several days?[/pullquote]

I pinched a nerve two weeks back, by doing nothing other than sleeping.

“I slept funny.” This is the excuse I had to deliver to my family doctor when she asked me what I did to myself to render the finger tips of my left hand numb, and to explain the searing pain in the shoulder, elbow, and lower arm, all while my upper arm and the muscles over my shoulder blade were alternating spasms that you could see when you looked at the muscle.

Scary shit.

Painful scary shit.

Ten days later, and the pain is mostly gone, but I’ve basically lost ten writing days because I was too doped up on muscle relaxants and anti-inflammatories and pain killers to see straight. (Nine days, actually. I did attempt to write on one of the first days while clinging to my couch and watching the walls breathe, and I managed a higher word count than my normal daily average. Looking over those words, though… I cringed a bit, and hit the delete a few times, and probably spent more time attempting to rework it that it was worth.)

I write every day. Even if it’s a line or two. It doesn’t have to be novel-related, but I think there should be tweets being made, and scribbles put into Evernote, and at least a little documentation of life. If I’m not writing fiction, then I’m writing in my journal. (I use DayOne because it’s awesome.) The problem is that being down for the count generally leaves me feeling down because I’m not doing the thing I really love to do everyday. The little “vacations” from the book take an emotional toll on me.

I wonder if I’m alone in this. Does this happen to you? Do you bottom out if you don’t touch The Work for several days?

More importantly, and I find myself in this situation right now so I feel that it’s important to ask:

Do you have a fallback writing plan when life bites you in the ass?

What do you have to do to get back on the horse?

Showing 7 comments
  • Erin Fritz
    Reply

    Kira,

    No, you aren’t alone! I am a poet and an aspiring screenwriter, though these take a side-seat next to finals… And yes, when I can’t write, it makes me absolutely miserable. I write every day, whether it’s for my journal, my poetry notebook or some random commentary about my surroundings. Writing is a part of who I am, and it makes me very depressed when I can’t contribute anything (or at least, anything worthwhile) to my Work.

    To answer your second question, not really. I write simply for my own amusement and for the entertainment of my circle of loyal friends, so I don’t stress if I can’t write very much every day. If (God forbid) I should be in a position to be unable to contribute to my Work, because of an injury or responsibilities, I carry a small notebook and a mechanical pencil around everywhere I go.

    If there is something that makes me look twice or captures my attention for more than a few moments, I write about it. A physical description, an emotional response, a rhyming couplet, personal thoughts, or an attempt at describing why it captured my attention, I just write. Later, I can go back and wince at whatever cracked out thought process I recorded, or nod thoughtfully about an overly-philosophical witticism. Whatever it is, whatever it means to me, I can use it for inspiration later. And I manage to keep in the practice of writing everyday.

    I don’t, and never have planned on writing professionally, but that doesn’t mean that it isn’t a huge part of who I am. When I have to take time away from writing to the point where I don’t feel motivated anymore…. Honestly, I whip out my notebook and some paper, crank up whatever music I was listening to last, and start writing any and every thought that comes to mind. Most of it goes in my faithful trashcan, but some of it manages to make it’s way into my ‘Hey, that’s not bad’ folder to look at another day. Sometimes these thoughts are related to my Work, but often they just reflect my mood. They are a practice in keeping my mind open and easily accessible for further reference.

    Anyway, I hope you feel better, and I hope this post makes you feel a little less alone!

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