Writing a Book When Life Gets in the Way

Getting Through What You Can't Get Over Book CoverI should have known when I chose the title, Getting Through What You Can’t Get OverLife threw me plenty of fresh material, as one tough thing piled on top of many little distractions. Anyone relate?

With the greatest of intentions, you plan your life around that contract, basking in the after-glow of signing your name. You cut back, say no, and schedule in ways conducive to writing the next great masterpiece. But then…life.

For me, it started right after I signed the contract in April, with the loss of a dear friend to cancer, and my father-in-law’s diagnosis of a new brain tumor. This aggressive grower would require a second surgery, less than a year after he’d been through the same procedure. Only this time, he would undergo radiation five days every week, for a period of two months. Add other appointments, follow-up visits, side-effects requiring care, and my mother-in-law’s freshly broken ribs. Let’s just say as their main care-giver, it was one rough summer. And all the while, hovering over my shoulders, the contract deadline. September 1st.

So what’s a writer to do when life wants to get in the way of the writing? You take the problems and solutions, questions and lessons, the painful and the purposeful, and you write from the heart of your struggles. But there were a few practical/spiritual tidbits I acquired as I walked that long valley. I pray someone finds a nugget of help here today.

  • Don’t discount the value of brief moments. One of the most inspiring things I’ve ever read was the story of a man who wrote an entire novel two minutes at a time, because that’s all he could muster everyday due to his job/financial responsibilities.
  • This truly is a no-brainer, but bears saying anyway–turn off the social media for a while.
  • No matter how frazzled, far behind, or feverish you feel about the work you need to do, take a Sabbath rest. I can’t tell you how many times I was tempted to pick up my computer and write on Sundays, but I stuck to my commitment to honor God with that day set aside each week. I firmly believe He honored my obedience with supernatural strength and inspiration.
  • Look at your commitments through a microscope. Are there areas you can delegate? Can you humble yourself and ask for help–then accept it? Will you stop people-pleasing and say, “No,” when appropriate? Is there something you can neglect temporarily? Are there troops you can rally to teamwork? In my case, I was able to strategize with family members. We came up with a plan and took turns driving my father and mother-in-law to medical appointments. Not everyone helped, but instead of letting bitterness add to my emotional weights, I expressed gratitude for those who were willing and able.What Satan Means for Evil God Means for Good
  • Remember, what Satan means for evil, God means for good.
  • Crawl in your Writer’s Cave. I explain the process in the post link. But to date, I’ve found no better way to gain the solitude I need when those precious writing moments arrive.

It isn’t easy to pen a book, especially when life conspires to hamper your productivity. But I must say, life holds no power over the One who created it. When I asked God for help, praising Him in advance, He gave the assist. He never let me down.

I slid across the deadline exactly on September 1st. Are there parts of the book I wish I’d written better? Of course. Writing a book isn’t easy when life gets in the way, but if it was, then everyone would do it. When you finish yours, celebrate. For getting through something many never will.

What tips can you offer to those who are struggling to meet their writing commitments?

8 Replies to “Writing a Book When Life Gets in the Way”

  1. Thank you for these inspirational words! As a home schooling mom, a wife of a business man who travels every week for work, and a writer, I often longingly look at my planner wondering how?
    I have learned that when I give my schedule to God and ask Him to align my tasks, somehow, some way, all the important gets done. Even the writing.
    Thank you for highlighting the need for honoring the Sabbath. That was a lesson I learned as an adult, and it does make all the difference!
    This post was very well done, thank you!

  2. I have not tried to publish anything and so I don’t have the same squeeze but for what it is worth…Sometimes I get into the office a bit early or stay a bit late to write. That setup obviously would not work for everyone. I have the good fortune of being a therapist who sets her own hours, so if my door is closed and my noisemaker is on, nobody will knock. Also, I have nearly grown kids. At home, I may resort to my version of The Cone of Silence (from Get Smart). I tell my family that I am not really home and they are not allowed to see me or talk to me for the designated time. And visa versa. That way we just pass each other quietly. Good for writing or decompressing after a long day of talk therapy! Also good for introverts, I might add. 🙂

  3. Good stuff, Anita! Resonates with me. So easy to be drawn off course, yet how well we know those moments and experiences can provide substantive fodder for our writing. One of the tried and true tips that has served me well (in all matters of life it seems) is to focus on the one next step. I can get overwhelmed with the immensity and possibilities–perceived positives and negatives–of the long view at times. Now if only I had learned that earlier rather than later. 🙂

    1. Oh, amen, Micky. Focus on the one next step — something I too have to exercise with intentionality. You’re right, it would have been nice to learn earlier, but at least we didn’t learn it later. 😉

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