Stuff Gets in a Writer’s Way

Focus on the Flowers, RBG, Burlington, ON

Tuesdays and Fridays, those are my posting days, and I almost always stick to them.  Unless something gets in my way.  Here are some of my stoppers this past few days:

  1. Good Friday.  I just can’t get down to business on a holiday; hence, there were not wonderful words (or any other kind) from me last Friday.  Thanks to those who indicated they liked my attitude.
  2. Bad News.  Two people in my family found out about health issues and let the rest of us know.  Hard to think of my writing as being so important.  Sometimes your mind (and your body) just has to go elsewhere.
  3. Good News.  A writer friend emailed to let a number of us know her manuscript has been accepted for publication and my Inbox has been flooded with wonderful Reply-To-All congratulatory messages for Sharon, a writer’s dream, for sure.  How does that get in my way?  A speck of envy dust was lodged in my revision-weary eye for just the merest moment before I got back into my positive place.  I looked in the mirror at my bloodshot eyes and repeated out loud, “My time is coming.” And it is. Meanwhile, I keep smiling for Sharon as she so deserves this break.
  4. More Good News.  Barbara Kyle tweeted me about a historical fiction contest she thought I should enter.  Way cool that she reached out to me, but my brain immediately took me on a wild ride of possibilities until I settled down and let my logical side work out just how to use this excellent information.  Sometimes getting sidetracked is so easy.  I purposely wrote out a list of the things I want to accomplish this moment, this afternoon, this day.  If I keep to the little things the big things will get done.  That’s the theory, anyhow.
  5. More Good News.  I had a doctor’s appointment this morning about my eye, which has been severely bloodshot for a week.  No, I’m not into the sauce.  Apparently these are quite common and even though I have to talk about the red of my eye instead of the whites, I’m okay.  Well, I was so euphoric after that visit, I just wanted to go out for lunch and the rest of the day. Heck, even the rest of the week.  (I’d put a picture of it in but don’t want to gross you all out.)
  6. Losing My Groove.  Having four days of holiday over Easter weekend, my writing just had to wait while family and friends took precedence.  Today I’m paying the price as my body has found out there are other things a person can do all day rather than sit at a keyboard.  Love the holidays but understand why a lot of writers never take them.  This blog post is my gateway back to the magic of sitting at my keyboard, tapping my fingers on the keys, and brilliant words flowing onto the screen.
  7. Life.  The phone rings (don’t answer it), my water-glass gets empty (forget it), my neighbor drives by (don’t make eye contact), and a million other things.  All distracting, but, wait.  They can be avoided.  When the words are working and the fingers can’t type fast enough, all else is underpainting while I brush the real scenes from my mind onto the pages.

Yes, stuff gets in a writer’s way but so what.  If we really want to write we just work through it and perhaps even use it in our writing.  What do you do with lemons?  Make lemonade.

How do you keep your mind focused on your writing?  Have you ever experienced good news that almost stopped you writing?  Consider leaving a comment to tell us about it.


23 thoughts on “Stuff Gets in a Writer’s Way

  1. Life getting in the way in general is another danger. When my first son was born I was writing while he napped for a while but then I just got too busy between kids and work and let it completely fall by the wayside. Losing it was like losing a limb and when we made our last move I vowed to return to it as soon as we had settled in our new city and I’m proud to say I did so. Now that the second child has arrived I’m glad that I have the perspective to not let that part get away from me again.


  2. Sorry to hear your bad news, Elaine.

    Lots of stuff can mess with my mojo, sometimes because it is a serious set back, sometimes because I let it. I find the biggest day to day challenge is juggling other writerly duties. While all important, it is easy to get lost in writing my own blog posts, social media, replies (like this one!) but I find if I schedule blocks in the day to take care of these things, I’m less likely to feel overwhelmed.

    And, those blocks of time give me a break, which is as good as a rest, and I go back to work refreshed. So, thank you, Elaine, for keeping me in touch and entertained during this 10-minute block of ‘stuff’. I’m energized and good to go.


    • Don’t you just love to laugh? Even when life is cruel and you feel like crap, a good laugh when you don’t even feel like it works wonders. Loving your A to Z series this month, Brinda!


  3. Let me assure you, you are not alone. This has been a week of distractions for me also, to say the least. A bronchial infection aggravated my husband’s COPD condition and for a while I thought it would take a trip to emergency. Thankfully a change in antibiotics brought it under control and the new procedure of oxygen therapy will help him breathe more normally, we hope.
    In the midst of that, I had a few days of ‘creeping crud’ and because my medication was too strong, I went comotose for hours after taking a dose.
    While we’re dealing with this, a windstorm blew the top of a dead tree into the backroom window. Son came by and replaced the glass for us, but all the blown-down deadwood still cluttering the yard whose weeds are growing like…well, like weeds.
    Oh yes, some generous person decided to dump four half-grown cats in our yard. Took the one female to the Humane Society today – the guys are on their own.
    I say all this to brag on myself, through it all I managed to keep up my daily postings for A-Z Challenge and all those Facebook & Twitter postings. Yeah for me! Just had to blow off steam.


    • Awesome, Gay. I am so proud of you. Your list made mine look easy, although health issues are the curse of getting older, the issues themselves for sure, but also the FEAR of the next bout of something. Gotta be strong. Thanks for sharing.


  4. So true, Elaine. I’ve been writing full-time for years, with seven books published, and I can assure you that life NEVER stops getting in the way. However, I have learned this much: writing challenges quietly percolate through your brain even while you’re dealing with the needs of family and friends, and writing solutions often result. And anyway, who wants to read the work of a writer who has no life?


    • You said it, Barbara, and from the vantage point of having published seven books. Truth speaks loudly. I’ve always used that percolate thing when faced with a challenge. My husband and I took it upon ourselves to put up crown moulding one time. Carpenters we are not, but figured we could do it. And we did. We’d figure out just what angle to use on the mitre saw, cut, and mount one piece, and then try to do it all again. I am supposed to be good at planning ahead so I was the brains here. I could only do one or two pieces and then we’d have to take a long, underline long, break before my brain would work again. Somehow, in between, my confusion cleared and we finally finished. I must try thinking of that next time I’m stumped!


  5. Everyone deserves a Holiday, Elaine! If the family news is something I should know, please inbox on facebook or send me an email privately.
    Happy writing. I can’t wait for the final product. Glen took us to Catherine’s farm the last time we were there. Exciting!
    Linda G


    • You are so right, Linda, everyone does! When are you guys holidaying in Canada again?
      So glad you relate to my euphoria about Catherine. Somehow my brothers knew this but I didn’t. Maybe we should talk more?


  6. You’ve hit many nails on the head here, Elaine. Thanks for sharing another post I find so relateable.

    I’ve been working more days/week at my day job and I’m struggling with keeping up with social media and a web design course and oh, writing, right, there’s that too.

    I was trying to devote weekends to family/house stuff, but then on Monday mornings I have so many emails to attend and I feel out of the loop. So many times I’m feeling like . . . ack!!!

    And one more thing, thank you so very much for your never-ending support and very kind words regarding my book contract. I know absolutely that your time will come and soon, so we’ll be celebrating your good news.

    (I can’t resist checking out Barbara Kyle’s site now.)


    • I have no idea how people do a day job, have family and best people, and still get any writiing done. Nevertheless, the ideas flow from those other spaces. Barbara Kyle’s comment is true, I think. We do let things percolate while we’re doing other stuff. All the best, my writing friend!


  7. Yes, it will be your turn soon. Good for your friend, good for you! I’m sorry for the bad news and hope your family gets better soon.

    On the subject of life getting in the way: it does. I also think we need breaks from sitting at the keyboard for hours a day non-stop until the book is finished. My daughter just took “a week’s break” to do nothing but read books and spend time with her Marine hubby. I think she read nine books. Two days in she was feeling guilty, three days in like she sucked as a writer. I told her not to compare herself to others except to see how she could improve her writing. Five days in she was completely restless and then next day she sat down and finished the last 10,500 words of her novel. She needed that break to get the stale out and find the freshness.

    Hang in there. When you get to writing, the words will be there. If they aren’t, find me on FB or my website and send me a message; we’ll talk until the words are brilliant.


    • Oh, too funny! My eye is really improving now so think I’m good. I love the story of your daughter’s writing experience, Habisha. Sometimes when I’m writing my mind is vacant, but just let me try to go somewhere or do something else and ideas pop. Last night sitting at a wonderful music festival class my mind was lulled by the senior musicians–so great!–and I figured out where my next writing pages would take my characters. Cool!
      And thank you for your excellent offer. Sometimes that’s just what we need isn’t it? To connect with sympathetic writers? I’ll look you up one day. All best!


      • So glad you got your next writing pages figured out. We took some holiday time last week up by the Canadian border. I always take something to write. My husband had to meet a client unexpectedly, leaving me with a free day to myself. I sat down and pulled up an old writing prompt I’d worked on two years before — and suddenly my fingers were flying, adding the next 3500 words to what is turning out to be a fabulous mystery set in 1933. Maybe I’ll try to finish it when I complete this WIP, or maybe I’ll just leave it for my “holiday” work. (I never go anywhere without something to write).

        If you look me up, find me under Deborah Turner. I’m only Habisha for wordpress.

        Deborah Turner


      • That statement about taking the break is so true. Over the years, I have had many times when I can’t get from one section to the next in the music I am arranging or writing. What would I do? When i had my house especially, I would go out and cut the grass or do some other chore. Part way through while I was not consciously going over the music; when my mind would be totally distracted, the solution would pop into my head. i would shut off the mower; go inside and write down the solution and then go back to finishing the lawn/chore.
        Yes, you’re right Elaine. I have been a bit behind in dealing with your blog posts.


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