When life attacks

Diana Pharaoh FrancisDiana Pharaoh Francis
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I had a different blog planned about finding a story idea, something I will do next time. But I had life attack and I thought it worth talking about. Life has been interfering with my writing for a couple of years now. Specifically, I worked in a very toxic environment at my old job, where bullying and illegal harassment were not uncommon, and the campus leadership did little or nothing to correct that, instead, often exacerbated the problem. My husband lost his job and could not find work locally, so we ecided it would be a good time for us to break out of the bad and into the good. It took two years to make that happen and during that time, i lived a year without him, while he worked elsewhere and I worked and was single-mom. We always knew it was for our future, but it was hard.

During all of this, I found it incredibly difficult to write. Part of that was because there always seemed to be things to do with the day job and with the kids and with every little thing. A big part of it was my mental health. I was struggling. It made focusing hard and being creative almost impossible. At the same time, writing is food for my soul. Without it, I would wither up and since the rest of life was already working to wither me up, I couldn’t afford it. I couldn’t survive it. 

But writing was no easy thing. Here are some things that I did.

I sat down and wrote. Good or bad, I made myself do it.

I kept to a schedule as much as I could, writing every day. I tried not to let myself skip.

I forgave myself for bad writing, for not writing long enough, often enough, and all of the hateful things that I could say to myself. I forgave those. 

I tried to play. I tried to enjoy. I played music and danced and tried to be goofy.

I depended on the support of friends and other writers here and in other places. I depended on the lifeline of knowing others were out there. And really, not just writers. My blog followers have been a huge support. Having those contacts meant everything. 

I tried to remember that all this would eventually end and I refused to believe that things would get worse.

I lowered my expectations and goals for my writing. Instead of 3K a day, I shot for 500 or 1000, or maybe just a few new words. Some forward progress. That still adds up.

I didn’t go back and reread what I’d written that frequently. It was too easy to criticize myself, so I did my best to avoid putting myself in the situation where I would do that.

I never thought about quitting. It wasn’t an option.

That’s about the sum of it. I had life swat at me again today and it made an effort to derail me, but I’ve got these tools ready. Tools I’ve had to figure out for myself. Sooner or later it happens to all of us. So now is a good time to think through a plan for what will happen. 

 

 

 

 

 

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8 comments to When life attacks

  • Thank you for sharing such a beautiful post about your determination. I hope the current life attack is over soon, and you’ll continue back on track!

  • Great advice for all who have life interfering with art. And all of us experience that from time to time. I hope that your life settles into a good place very, very soon, Di. We’re all rooting for you.

  • sagablessed

    Preach it, sister!! Preach it from the mountain tops!

    I admire your candor and determination.

    My favorite part: “At the same time, writing is food for my soul. Without it, I would wither up and since the rest of life was already working to wither me up, I couldn’t afford it. I couldn’t survive it.”

    That says you were born to write. Make it so. ;)

  • Ken

    Thanks for sharing. This is great advice for dealing with all the stuff that wants to grind you down. Hope things smooth out for you soon!

  • Thanks for such an honest and inspiring post. It’s a good reminder that life doesn’t always run smoothly, but we can’t/shouldn’t use that as an excuse not to write at all.

    Hope your life starts running smoothly soon. Keep hanging in there until it does!

  • Life’s been attacking me like a school of piranha that hasn’t had a meal in days before someone tossed an unwitting me in and a drop of blood. I worked on edits on a project as I could, but other things come first, unfortunately. Though I am getting SUPER tired of cleaning…

  • Razziecat

    Been there. Am there. Trying hard to hang in there! Your ways to keep at it are good. I’ll add one: Find something good, something to be happy about, proud of, or even a little bit smug about. It doesn’t matter what it is, just find at least one thing every day that is a good, positive thing in your life. It helps. :)

  • That was beautiful. I’m having a life attack right now. And what gets me through it is my writing, my books and the thought that I have to be strong for my new baby to come, if never for me. I hope you feel better. Your family is in my prayers.