By Shirley E. Gould
I’ve heard it said that “Life is what happens when you have other plans.” I totally agree. Interruptions and distractions plague the writer’s life. When you mix in events such as weddings, birthdays and anniversaries and blend those with holiday celebrations, the opportunities to write a novel dwindles.
This is true no matter where you find yourself in the various stages of life. If you’re among the single and searching with its challenges, it’s hard to write a romance when you haven’t found true love or a happily-ever-after ending when your heart has just been crushed.
If you’re a young mother with toddlers running around, finding writing time is most difficult. I love the television commercial where the baby is looking under the closed bathroom door and says, “Hi” to her mother. I have two daughters who have toddlers and motherhood is all consuming. Life is full of action at this stage.
If you’re the soccer mom juggling schedules of your children’s activities whether it’s football, soccer, basketball, cheer-leading, gymnastics, etc., you spend so much time behind the wheel when you’d love to be writing. It’s then that you revert to pen and paper to capture fleeting thoughts and ideas before they vanish into thin air.
In mid-life, while multi-tasking between the demands of your occupation, your family needs and church activities, finding time to write usually happens in the wee hours of the morning or when you’re burning the mid-night oil. Some use lunch hours to hit the keys. It’s by sheer determination that we plod along in our quest to put words on paper.
When sickness invades our lives, we lose momentum and get discouraged. Or when grief overwhelms you with the loss of a loved one, being creative is the last thing on your mind. When my husband passed, I experienced overwhelming grief, writing was impossible. One agent told me my creativity could be stilted for a while. But, after a couple months, I returned to my novel. I discovered the time I spent with my fictional characters became a reprieve from my grief. It was therapy for me, helping me survive.
Until we’re an established author with books on the shelves, we are in the starving artist category of writers striving to complete our work in progress, secure an agent or sign with a publisher. Because of our passion for the written word we stay on the hamster wheel, we get creative and use our vacation time or go to a hotel for uninterrupted writing time. We’re called to write and we can’t quit.
In whatever stage you’re in, I encourage you to take the stage! Announce to those around you that you need help finding time to work on your manuscript. Ask them for ideas. Including family and friends in the process will keep them from resenting your time at the keyboard. Share your solitary writing quest whenever possible allowing them to see into your world of words and the process from rough draft to printed page. Then, when you mention them on the dedication page, they will feel proud to have been a part of the process.
Shirley E. Gould is an inspirational speaker, an African missionary and a freelance journalist. She’s founder of Kenya’s Kids Home for Street Children in Kenya, East Africa. Shirley has written articles and newsletters for twenty years and is presently writing Christian Fiction novels. She lives in the Nashville, Tennessee area.