Writing in Crisis

The other day I wrote about the challenges of writing through the holidays. Today I want to talk about writing through life - or those heavy-duty life issues that pop up for everyone from time to time.

As Joni is at the moment, I'm also dealing with some parental health issues (in my case on both the parent and in-law side). Distracting and stressful to say the least, but I haven't for a moment regretted time spent traveling or on the phone. I've been writing long enough to know that when serious life issues come up, you have to deal with them, allowing yourself whatever time is needed to cope. But whenever possible, you need to dip your toes back into the flow of your work.

Yesterday, I came frighteningly close to losing my dad. Things weren't going well, and I had to sweat out (from 1500 miles away) his ambulance transfer to a larger hospital for an emergency heart procedure to save his life. While waiting to hear about his condition, I tended to routine tasks that would allow me to travel quickly if need be. I comforted myself with tea and prayer and meditation. And I chose some simple proofreading task to give me an opportunity to focus on something other than what-ifs. And I asked myself to write one new sentence - that's all - to move the story forward. (Thanks, Todd Stone, for the tip about setting a tiny goal to get yourself moving!)

I didn't attempt anything huge. Didn't set myself up for failure by demanding ten or five or even two pages in my distracted state. But by getting myself started with that tiny dip of a toe, I immersed myself into the story world long enough to complete the scene.

It was a small victory, but it carried me through to the long-awaited phone call -- and the happy news that my dad received his new stent just in time. I was able to speak to him, to hear him laughing and cutting up with my mom, my sister, and her two kids. What an incredible relief!

When the going gets tough, how do you keep yourself connected with the writing? Anyone have any terrific tips to share?


Anonymous said…
So sorry about your dad, Colleen, but I'm glad to hear he's on the mend, how scary!

Write On!
Thanks so much, Tessy. It's been a harrowing week, but I'm so grateful he's come through it.
Joni Rodgers said…
Hang in there, Colleeny. 2010 is coming!
Anonymous said…
Hi, Colleen, much sympathy on all the stress. And great news about your Dad!

As for staying connected with your writing during trauma... I've never been able to do it. I know some writers write while sitting with loved ones who are in a coma. Me, I've taken my computer to the hospital, and couldn't even bring myself to read email.

Christie Craig said…

First, I'm keeping your dad in my prayers. It's so hard to be far away and have trouble hit.

Second, thanks for the post. We all need to be reminded to keep our heart and eyes on what's most important.


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