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The Writing Life Interrupted

By Michelle Shocklee

Interruptions in life happen to all of us at some point. Sometimes they’re dark and scary, perhaps due to a storm raging that has nothing to do with the weather. (Although as many of our friends and family on the Texas and Florida coasts know, weather storms wreak havoc and disrupt life in ways they’d never imagined!) Job loss. Relationship issues. A health crisis. Because we live in a world where bad things happen even to good people, the list of what can go wrong is endless. Sometimes the interruption is good, like having a baby. Or landing a new job and moving to another state. The bottom line is, life is full of interruptions. You can’t escape them.

So what does that mean in a writers’ life? Not only will we have our personal routines thrown into chaos, trying to carve out time for writing, editing, and marketing may seem impossible.

I’ve recently experienced this. My husband and I work as estate caretakers, which is an amazing blessing because we get to be with each other all day, but it also means our income and job security comes as a package deal. Last summer the owner of the Texas ranch where we’d worked for almost five years decided to make some changes that didn’t include us. Although we were ready for a new adventure, it was a time of uncertainty. The deadline for the third book in my historical series was still many months away, but the story and my writing stalled as I worried about our future. I also received the galleys for the second book, due to release in February 2018, during this time of waiting, and only with God’s help was I able to do my job and concentrate on them. Happily, eight weeks after leaving the ranch, we accepted another even better position in Tennessee. U-haul, here we come!

No matter the interruption, we writers can do some simple things to keep the writing fires burning. Perhaps not blazing, as when life is flowing smoothly, but they certainly don’t need to sputter out.

  • Write something, anything, every day. I know, I know. You’ve heard that little chant a million times: write every day. But it’s true and beneficial. Although you aren’t in the best frame of mind, work on your WIP, even knowing that some of what you’re writing may need to be edited out later. If you can’t muster the inspiration to work on your current WIP then write a blog post. If that seems too daunting, write an email to a long-distance friend or relative. Keep a journal about what you’re going through. When things settle down, you may look back on those words and find some real nuggets of gold.
  • Read a great novel in your WIP’s genre to get your mind off your own situation. Read a non-fiction inspirational book to give you encouragement. Read that research book you haven’t had time for. Read the newspaper. Just read.
  • Volunteer to edit a manuscript for another writer. We all need an extra pair of eyes on our projects. If you can’t work on your own book, help someone else with theirs.
  • Force yourself to plant your behind in the chair, especially if you have a deadline or marketing that must get done. You’ll be glad you did.
  • Most importantly, don’t neglect time with the Lord. He is, after all, the source of our inspiration. “For I know the plans I have for you…”

Michelle Shocklee is the author of the historical novel The Planter’s Daughter. The Widow of Rose Hill, Book 2, releases February 2018. Her historical novella is included in The Mail-Order Brides Collection which also releases in February 2018. She and her husband of thirty years make their home in Tennessee. Visit Michelle on her website, Facebook, and Twitter.


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3 Responses to The Writing Life Interrupted

  1. Your post was perfect for me today. My entire plan for writing and holidays just went off the rails due to circumstances beyond my control.
    I will make sure to read in my genre over the next couple of weeks, and I will write SOMETHING every day.
    Thank you!

  2. Thanks, Linda! Have a very Merry Christmas … and get back in writing chair soon! =)

  3. This is where I am now, Michelle and I tweeted it, so I can fix it in my mind.
    It’s no easy time, but what can I say? I only have this life to express what I want to, so why wouldn’t I?

    This afternoon, long before reading your post, I was drafting an article right about this. Life happens. Thank God, it happens. He does not lay on our back a burden we are not able to bear. If we are carrying a cross now, it means we are fit to go all the way up.

    Thank you for sharing.