Most of the writers I know have day jobs as well as their writing, and/or have families to care for (some with youngsters/some with elder parents or ailing partners). Writing time is limited: before work, lunch hours, late at night. When anything disrupts that schedule—when life interferes—it’s frustrating. It’s certainly happened to me many times. I’m looking forward to writing down a scene that ‘s been playing in my head all day, and suddenly something comes up. Instead of having time to write, I’m going to have to…(you fill in the blank.)
In the past this bothered me more than it does now. That’s one advantage of getting older. Over time I’ve discovered that some of those interferences—that time out from writing—provided me with wonderful material for future books. At the very least, the feelings of frustration gave me an emotion I could tap into. But more than frustration, those unplanned events that took me away from my writing also allowed me to visit hospitals, ERs, police stations, and nursing homes. I now know how to deal with probate court and administering an estate. I’ve learned how to quickly schedule a cross-country flight and how to argue for what I feel is right (and sometimes win). One unexpected phone call took me away from my computer to another part of the state, one I might never have visited. People visiting unannounced have eaten up precious writing time, but they’ve also supplied me with lots of great story ideas from the tales they’ve told.
Years ago one of those “Life Events” that took me away from my writing was an ice storm that forced us to go a week without power. Schools were closed, so my kids were home. We had no electricity, no TV or radio. No computer or electric typewriter. We couldn’t really go anywhere since the road in front of our house was glare ice. And since we had well water, we couldn’t flush the toilets, bathe, or wash dishes. Thank goodness we had a back-up wood stove in the basement, a creek not far from the house, and lots of canned food. I didn’t get a lot of writing done during that week, but I garnered a lot of great information to use in future books. I also enjoyed a week of being closer to my husband and kids.
How dull life would be if everything went exactly as planned all of the time. Those unexpected events that take us away from our writing can stimulate new ideas, place us in new environments, or bring us in contact with new people. Also, I believe the more flexible we can be in life, the more flexible we can be with our writing. If one idea doesn’t work…try another way.
So when life interferes with your writing, don’t let it get you down. Conflict and obstacles are what we write about.