I try to be regular in my writing habits, such as they are. One hour a day, five days a week for fiction is working pretty well with the rest of my responsibilities right now. I’m able to produce without going crazy. Still, there are times when life interferes and I am prevented from key-pecking on my usual schedule or at all.
Just recently I had an entire week in which my usual writing time was taken up by unusual activity in my day job. Looking back on it, I can see I went through the five stages of grief described by Elisabeth Kübler-Ross in her 1969 book, On Death and Dying. I can also see a couple of lessons in the experience.
Monday Morning–Denial: I told myself I’d still be able to stick to my regular lunch-hour writing schedule. Wrong! The demands of the work completely scrambled my somewhat orderly routine and made mid-day writing impossible.
Monday Afternoon and Evening–Anger: I bemoaned my fate, sulked at work, bitched to my family and was generally put out about the whole thing. It didn’t help matters and in fact made me feel worse.
Tuesday Morning–Bargaining: “Okay, I’ll trade an hour of sleep a night for an hour of writing,” I told myself. This just wasn’t realistic—I need a certain amount of sleep to function effectively and without biting the head off everyone around me. It’s not a discipline thing, it’s a genetic predisposition. The bargain fell through.
Tuesday Afternoon and Evening–Depression: This one was easy, since I’m kind of melancholic anyway. I went into a zombie-like trance of funk, certain my project would go completely off track, sure I’d never get the zing back. I was doomed!
Wednesday Morning—Acceptance: I finally realized that since there was no fixing the situation to my liking, I might as well go with the flow. After all, my philosophy for this project is, in part, to remember that it’s not the be-all, end-all, whoop-tee-doo major deal of the earth, that I’m not in a hurry, that I’m writing for my own pleasure first and foremost. Recalling that intention made me feel loads better and reassured me that the non-attached way I have been approaching the project is, for me, the best one.
Despite the roseate glow of acceptance, I still felt like writing—a lot. The feeling built in intensity over the week. It was something like the excitement I felt as a kid when Christmas day was near—it built with every passing sunset. When Saturday rolled around and I was at last able to get back to the story, all that pent-up energy exploded onto the page. It was great! I don’t know if I wrote anything good, but I wrote a lot of it and I had a wonderful time. The energy and joy lasted for several days more—what a gift.
So, thanks to a long week of enforced non-writing, I learned a couple of things:
- Writing for its own sake works. It’s an application of the principle that the best way to prepare for future moments is to do your best with the present one.
- Enforced time off, once accepted, can be a time of building energy for the writing ahead.
Okay, that’s enough. Got to get ready for work tomorrow…