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Sunday, June 28, 2020

Sometimes life gets in the way of writing. It's okay.

One of the "rules" of writing you hear over and over is that you have to write every day. I'm here to tell you that it isn't always a possibility. And that's okay.

Any writer who feels bold enough to pronounce "rules" of any type is, I think, a bit full of shit. Some of the greatest writers in history made their mark precisely by breaking the rules. But the "rule" of writing every day is one that is repeated all the way from bestselling authors to unpublished writers aspiring to be like those gurus.

Stephen King, for instance, in his much-lauded book, On Writing, prescribes that you write at least 1000 words a day at least six days a week. Well good for him, but remember that he is a full-time author who makes buckets of money at it. I’ve found that a lot of writers who hand out this advice, particularly if they declare you should write X thousand words/day or some number of hours every day, are actually full time writers.

Yes, if you are committed to writing as a career or are serious about putting words on paper and getting it into the hands of readers, then you should write as regularly as possible and as much as your muse can manage. But let's get real, okay? We're human and most of us who write are not full-time writers. We have messy lives. We have kids to raise. We have dayjobs (sometimes more than one) demanding our full attention. We have groceries to shop for, lawns to mow, friends and family to nurture. And gods forbid we actually want a little "me" time just to entertain ourselves with a movie or a good book. After all, you HAVE to be in touch with your life and your culture or your own writing will seem less “real.”

Lives are messy. I'm no exception. After I finished my second novel, I actually stopped writing fiction for over eight years as I raised two special needs babies and worked a career. I found other outlets (blogging and job-related writing), but trying to write quality fiction while exhausted, in maybe 15-minute increments, was simply not do-able. Eventually my kids became a bit more self-sufficient and my dayjob calmed down, and I found myself with enough time and energy to get back to my fiction. It was such a relief to finally exercise that part of my identity! That was several years ago. Happily, I'm back at it.

These days, I'm hitting it harder, with lots of projects coming together in rewarding ways. I find much more time now for writing, editing, and marketing my books. But LIFE is still messy. I'm just coming out of a divorce. I'm buying a house. I'm having kid issues. I'm preparing for a move. And, let's not forget, we're all in the middle of a worldwide pandemic while socially isolating and, at least in my case, working from home for the dayjob. Throw in there a surprise (!) root canal the other day, too. Whew! That's a hell of a lot to deal with!

Many of you reading this may have similar craziness in your lives. It's okay. Really. It's okay.

And if you feel you need permission to attend to life and write later, here it is: You have permission to write when you can, whenever or for however long that may be. We'll wait. It'll be brilliant, because you'll be able to focus better knowing that your life's basic needs are also being met.

And the silver lining? All those crazy things in our lives will color our writing, too. Life experience is the number one best thing to bring your writing to life. It pops up in unexpected ways, breathing essence into your characters and the way they deal with their own lives. And because our readers are human and have crazy lives, too, they can relate better to your writing as a result.

I know your keyboard is calling to you. But go ahead and deal with your car appointment or child's recital or your work report, or whatever. The words will come when you get that chance. Your mind will be clearer. And we'll eagerly await to read what comes out of it!

Cheers and happy writing!

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