When Life Gets in the Way…

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What happens to the writing life, when real life gets in the way? I keep meaning to write, but so often, things get in the way. I have to go shopping. I have to apply for a job. I have an interview. I need to exercise. Need. Need. Need. And before I know it, its 10 pm, the day is gone and I haven’t written a thing.

The problem, of course, is that I have this uncanny ability to put things off. I have always done so, and perhaps always will. If I were a superhero, my name would be super-procrastinator. I need to make writing as much of a priority as everything else in my life.  I’m making Halloween costumes, getting ready for a gigantic community yard sale. I’m trying to spend time with my loved ones. These are all priorities. But so should writing.

Yet, it seems sometimes that my muse has left me to wither away; leaving untold stories in my head. I know its stress that makes me feel that way, but sometimes, I can’t really help it. But then there are times, like yesterday, when I can’t seem to stop writing. I had to have written 2,000 words before I realized it’s after 12 and I need to leave the house to get things done.  The inspiration is there. The desire is there. The motivation, however, is not always there.

As I was driving, I contemplated why I had the motivation to write yesterday when, for over a month, my drive has been as dusty as the Sahara in summer. I think part of the reason lies in my previous post. On Monday I finally had my computer back. I fixed it, it might have taken me all weekend, but I did it. I didn’t just lay around the house, doing chores, applying for a job, and making dinner. I did something well, and what was once an unusable computer became a like-new computer. My motivation, I suddenly realized, came from the fact that I had actually done something.

It made me feel good about myself. Last week, I sold my first gift basket online. That same day, I wrote more than 1,000 words. I suddenly realized I can’t be just a full-time writer. I have to have something else to do as well. And I’m not talking the nitty-gritty crap of everyday life. I’m talking about something that gives meaning; something that gives pride in the self. I did more writing while going to college than I have since I graduated. It seems a bit counter-intuitive, but when I do something well, it gives me a boost, and I suddenly realize that I can. That gives me the drive that I need to write.

My solution, then, is to go back to school. I’m entering *crosses fingers* the MLIS program. I technically have to be accepted, but I’ve been told more than once that because of my grades and GRE scores that it’s just a technicality. When I was younger, I felt most at home in the library, preferring books to people. If there is any better place for a writer than a library, I’d surely like to know. This way, I get to do something productive, which will, hopefully, give me what I need to write.

In addition to that, I plan on continuing to make, and hopefully sell, gift baskets online. I listed my second one on Tuesday. I had to get it to the post-office so that I could weigh it and calculate shipping costs. I’m making mini-baskets to sell at the yard sale. To make something that people will enjoy helps to give a sense of purpose, or at least pride; all the more when people actually do enjoy them.

So is it lack of motivation, or is life really getting in the way? It’s a little of both, but if I can keep my motivation up, then the priority is there. Life, then, can’t get in the way. When the motivation starts to lack, life has a much higher tendency to intrude on my writing time. In fact, it’s not just life that gets in the way, my mind will start to wander. I’ll play “one game” of solitaire that somehow becomes ten. I’ll listen to one song, which becomes twenty. I’ll do one chore that becomes cleaning the whole house. I’ll apply to one job, which becomes three. When the motivation, the sense that I really can do it, isn’t there, then I let things get between me and what’s really important.

Now it’s time for show and tell. What do you do when your life gets in the way? What do you do when you feel like you can’t really do anything? How easy is it to get out of the dull drums and write at a renewed, sometimes astonishing, pace?

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2 Comments

Filed under The Writing Life, Writing

2 responses to “When Life Gets in the Way…

  1. Hey. I never commented here. Well… let me say… the answer depends on a lot.

    For me, I take this approach to writing: writing is my passion. Someday, I hope it can even be my dominant career (though I’ll accept the reality that it may, of necessity, have to be someday when my regular career has come to a natural, retirement-age conclusion, though I’d like for it to be sooner… whether it can or not depends on whether I can be successful at it or not). But for now, the reality is, though writing is my passion, it’s also my hobby.

    And that means that on any given day, life and its myriad requirements have to come first. Family comes first, along with various family-related and household obligations. Dayjob has to come right after. Writing might be third or fourth or even fifth on the list of important obligations.

    I’ve learned not to fret or get down on myself when life’s obligations pop up and I can’t write. I enjoy writing, a lot, and I feel bad when I can’t write. But stuff happens. You can’t control that.

  2. Pingback: Theories of Literary Motivation…Or Something Like That. « Writers For Life

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