In some areas, I was surprised to see that my month long absence was no big deal. In others, I was sorely missed. From my perspective, I missed everything. Each person I interacted with, no matter if it was online or in person, was very much missed. Of course, when you're quarantined, you generally missed even the most mundane tasks - such as breaking up fights between the kids and cleaning the bathrooms. But this experience reminded me how important it is to keep our priorities in order.
Sit down and take a look at how you really spend your time. If you're married, be sure to include your spouse. If you're young and in high school, ask your parents to look through the list with you. If you're single, review the list with a trusted friend. Be realistic about how you spend your time. Do you really only do one hour of homework/laundry/working on a committee or is it more like three but you just don't want to admit it? Once you've figured that out, look to see if there's anything you can cut back on . . . or if your schedule pretty well balanced between work/school/church/family/writing/activities/hobbies. This is a good process to go through twice a year.
Life has lots of twisty turns, high rises, exciting swoops, and freaky scream-at-the-top-of-your-lungs drops. Most of the time as writers, we're able to go with the flow and keep things moving. Even with three kids puking, I can eek out 30 minutes to 1 hour of writing time (in 5 minute increments throughout the day). Other times there are major things that happen that bring us to a stand-still. It could be a personal illness, a family problem, a death of a loved one or something exciting such a wedding, a new baby, or going on a church mission. No matter what it is, just remember that it is totally, perfectly acceptable to set aside your writing and/or everything else in your day-to-day routine and focus solely on what's happening in your life that needs your undivided attention.
Warning: It's easy to get our of your routine, then not get back into it. So here's a tip - when you set your writing aside, be sure to either make goal for a specific date you'll get back into the groove or confide in a trusted friend and ask them to kick your butt back in gear when life gets back to normal. Write the date down (or your friend's name or even a note that says "My characters miss me. Write!"), then post it on your bathroom mirror. Don't feel guilty when you see your note. Instead, remember why you love to write so you're excited to return.
I'm excited to get back to my WIP's. I have a non-fiction project to finish up (thank goodness for my very sweet & patient co-author & publisher) and once that's completed, I am seriously finishing up Sweet Confections. For real. Non-fiction beware! Danyelle is taking a break! =)
But mostly, I'm very happy to be interacting with my family, slowly working on building my energy back up, and to be able to sit up long enough to hang out with my friends (online and in person).
I would love to hear your tips about how you handle writing or writing breaks when life becomes insane. Please share for me and the rest of our readers.
Danyelle Ferguson is a stay-at-home mom to four boisterous kids, trying to cram in writing & review deadlines between the never-ending laundry pile and constant calls for mom. She is the co-author of (dis)Abilities and the Gospel and a member of the Authors Incognito Executive Committee.