Injuries, families and those other things that keep us from writing.

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I’m a bad writer, I know. Not because I’m incapable of writing well, but because I’m often incapable of keeping the “real world” from interfering with my writing. I came home from DragonCon enthused after spending most of a week with my friends, energized to get some new words down on paper, and really psyched to finish some projects by the end of the year. 

Then life happened. 

I got back to work and started taking care of the things that had piled up while I took Thursday and Friday off to attend the con. I started prepping for auditions for the show I’m directing this fall. I started sending out invites for The Big Bad 2, and looking over some of the early submissions. And I did get a little writing done. About 5,000 words since I’ve been home. 

That sucks. It’s not enough writing. It’s not enough time spent at the keyboard. 

Then I hurt my foot, and the last thing I want to do when I get home is sit at a desk longer. The injured foot story is over at my website, which I’m trying to post at once a week as well as here, but the short version is I forced my foot into an odd position while driving for six hours, and got tendinitis of the Achilles as a result. It’s a lot better today. Ice and ibuprofen is a wonderful combination. 

But that’s the life, I suppose. We can find any excuse to keep from writing, no matter how many deadlines we’ve got staring us in the face. And I have no sympathy for any of us, myself included. I have a laptop, if I really wanted to write, I’da been sitting in the recliner with ice on my foot hammering away. But I didn’t, so I’ll play catch-up this weekend. And I guess that’s the point of this post – at the end of the day, we must write. We have to put words down on paper. If you’re incredibly disciplined (as I have been at some points in my career) and hammer out 2,000 words every single day, that’s awesome. If you write in fits and starts and lurch your way to the end of the story, that’s awesome too. But you must write. 

I must write. 

Not just because I have bills to pay, which I do. 

Not just because I have fans who want the next book, which I’m incredibly grateful that I do. 

Not just because it’s the only way to get the voices in my head to give me a moment’s peace, which it is. 

But because I’m a writer. This is the gig. I must write. Sometimes it’s between phone calls at work when I can make a (late) blog post happen. Sometimes it’s late at night after the wife has gone to bed. Sometimes it’s all weekend when I’d rather be watching football. But I must write. 

Now – what’s your biggest distraction? Is it Lost Girl on Netflix? Is it worrying about work? What keeps you from writing and what are you going to about it? I’ve used my bad foot as an excuse and am going to write all weekend to make up for it. How are you making up for lost time? 

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12 comments to Injuries, families and those other things that keep us from writing.

  • Fireheart1974

    John,

    This is incredibly timely. I didn’t write a single word the month of august (blaming vacation and getting a kindergartner started in school). But I also haven’t really written in September. I need to get back to writing. So instead of lamenting with you here…I’m going to go write a few words in the WIP! Thanks again for the post!

    ~Fireheart

  • Perfect timing. I just finished writing a blog post (to go live at 4 @http://drivelingon.blogspot.com/)about priorities and why I haven’t been writing as much lately. Most recently my family has been the distraction. My mom came to town (family reunion), my brother came to town for over a week, my son and I have been playing a couple games of Magic the Gathering each night, and I went to watch my dad play at some dive bar. I’ve also been running most days so that’s even less time I have to put my but in chair. I’m still writing, just not nearly as much as I would like.

  • sagablessed

    My distractions are 1) health. Having some serious issues right now, and my energy ping-pongs. 2) My puppy. He is a twerp, and I only get to see him once or twice a week on my days off. My most potentially productive days are consumed by rubbing a little tum-tum. And walkies. Gotta have walkies. 😀

    Making up for it? I just do my best. I also have a writing buddy. I can’t remember who posted it, but the idea is we keep tabs on each other, give encouragement, and kick in the can when needed. We have agreed to 4,000 WOP each week.

  • Distractions…
    Yeah, like Saga, I’m having some health issues that are worrying me and sapping my strength and energy. I’m worrying about having to go back out into the work force, a move which could further push my health into the crapper. I’ve had to go through a massive cleaning run at the homestead for company that never came. I have to see/find a doc to figure out how far my health’s shot. Plus, I’ve got my country’s 500th anniversary to plan, my wedding to arrange, my wife to murder, and Guilder to frame for it; I’m swamped. But I am still trying to get those revisions done. Just in a bit of a slump.

  • My distractions? Hoe much time have you got? Kids, promotion, stupid effing games on my iPhone, kids, house stuff, guitar, oh and did I mention kids? I’m getting back to it slowly, working today and making some progress with a story for some anthology. But it’s been a while since I wrote — this had been a summer of travel and promotion — and getting back into the creative swing takes some time. I have to push myself, but I also have to be patient.

  • Add me to the injured list. And while normally I strive for “push myself until exhaustion takes over”, lately I’ve been trying to be more mindful about rest. And admit to myself that a four-day con takes a lot out of me, too. Other stuff on the list includes family stuff, honouring committments with friends, and doing the best I possibly can at the dayjob in the face of changes (most of them good). And little things, like actually stopping to watch a TV show with my husband, or the fact that one of my friends is working at his warehouse right now and is carpooling with us so I don’t get the normal commute time to write, either.

    But then there’s also writing stuff that I hadn’t factored in before: querying my finished novel, which is an ongoing process; related issues like tweaking my synopsis, revising my query letter, participating in stuff like #pitmad (today!) and skimming the #MSWL for agents looking for YA high fantasy; and devoting a lot more time than usual to reading new stuff in my subgenre so that I can tell an agent “It’s like this book and that book, but nothing like that other book”.

    I take my laptop everywhere so I can pull it out at quiet times, and my writing notebook for when the laptop’s not feasible, and I’m trying to keep my lunch breaks for writing. And sometimes I get to writing late at night, but not as much lately because these days, I really pay for it in the morning!

  • School keeps me from writing–lots of stuff to do. Wedding planning keeps me a bit, but not much, though that might change in the next weeks or so (one month until the wedding exactly!). Sometimes TV does. And the sense that “it’s evening, I should rest.” I should write more when I get home from work. Spending time with my SO, but I’m not going to cut that out. I’ve started working out a few times a week, and that’s good for me. Mostly, it’s just not getting it done because I’m opting to do something else.

    So, because the post made me feel guilty for not writing, I wrote about 500 words on a new story for some anthology or another–possibly the same one David mentioned. 😀 It’s not a shortage of ideas; it’s a shortage of follow through, and I need to get through that.

  • My health is better. YAY!
    My life is easier. YAY!
    My deadlines are easier. YAY!
    My PR times is ramping up for four books/bprojects.anthos to come out in between November and January 2014.
    Not yay, but necessary. But still I could have found time to write.

    So what do I do?
    I add in another freaking project to spend time setting up and organizing. Not writing. Can I say IDIOT???? LOL

  • Razziecat

    *sigh* OK, I’ll tell. I have something known as “frozen shoulder” and it is a bitch. A rotten, evil, dagger-in-the-arm bitch. I have new sympathy for all those living with chronic pain. And I know I can’t use this as a reason not to write, but honestly, some days–arrggh. And next week is going to be all about roof repairs, the dentist, physical therapy, etc. Also not a good excuse. I have to work some writing time in there somewhere, even if it’s in the middle of the night. NaNo’s coming up and I may want to participate again, and I can’t make 50K words by sitting around complaining—something which actually is true all year 🙂

  • Biggest distraction – the SO. Tonight SO was like – let’s watch Lilo and Snitch. Sorry, I got writing. Today I was disciplined enough to say no.

    But only because I am in Fireheart1974 ‘s boat, only worse. Somehow I missed posting anything to my blog for the months of July and August. I could blame the three weeks of non-profit work I did, but I still got reading done. My to-do list every day included writing.

    I am fixing the issue. A missed deadline is still a deadline to be met. The blog is about me doing committed writing and meeting deadlines. I have caught up 5 of 8 weeks. I am now about a third into a WIP as well.

    … Time for life to happen.

  • I feel guilty and angry at myself – not because of your post, I felt that way before I read it. But today was my “woo hop, empty afternoon! Let’s write!” I’ve got a serious deadline breathing down my neck too, so I had every reason and every opportunity to write. Total words written – 0. Fie on it! I let the little crap steal my time and I’m not pleased with myself. Okay, some of it had to be dealt with – serious bank error that needed resolving before 4pm EST (while I’m on PST), an unexpected stream of students panicking about their paper, a colleague who wanted to chat about work issues that do need addressing. But a lot of it was my own blatant time wasting. I didn’t need to check and recheck FB, I didn’t need to play that extra round of Plants vs Zombies, and I didn’t need to take so long at lunch reading gossip columns. I could have at least gotten through one more journal article and turned some of my notes into paragraphs. But, tomorrow is another day (so they tell me). Onward!

  • Marlie

    Excuses? Sure! Some of them are the same as above and I would add kids leaving the nest. I am stuck on research and want to just throw in the proverbial towel on this side project, but I have a feeling it’s important, so what do I do? I use every excuse I can to put aside the research and move past it. It’;s been almost three days, but this afternoon is different. I am going to jump in and find out what I need. Period. End of story. Well, continuing with the story actually. Good luck to you all!