There are times when you sit down to write and the muse flows through you. Story appears on the page with ease and excitement, and you feel like a god of words, weaving plots and characters into a holy text of awesomeness.
Then there are the other times.
Something gets in your way – work, kids, travel, commitments, illness, unexpected events. I’m not just talking about procrastinating by doing the laundry, or waiting until the whole house is clean or your inbox is empty until you can finally sit down to write. I’m talking about the things that fall into our path that we can’t avoid. In these times, it can feel like our writing is shoved out of the way and all of our stories are closed off at the end of an obstacle course full of banana peels and marbles, and the floor is lava. Things we can’t ignore take over, and we’re left with the longing to sit quietly with our stories and bring them to life. In these times, it can feel like chasing the end of a rainbow.
This frequently happens to me, usually when I’ve just built up some kind of momentum and my chronic illness decides to rear its ugly head. I’ve blogged about trying to write with Fibromyalgia before (you can read that here) and I’ve shared stories about it on my social media. I think it’s important to share because it can help others know their experiences are mutual and valid. For people with chronic illness, it can be difficult to find the balance between everything we have to do in life, everything we want to do in life, and the limitations of our bodies. It can be so frustrating when you’re full of story ideas and your nervous system decides to short out. When you only have enough energy to do one task before you need to sit down and rest. When your brain feels waterlogged and slow, and even typing a three-sentence email takes forty tries.
I had an entirely different blog post planned for this week, but it required a lot more brainpower and research than I have the time or energy to put forward right now. And maybe you have an obstacle that isn’t chronic illness – your schedule is overloaded and you’re just getting by with your life commitments and caffeine right now. Or you’ve suffered a loss and you are just trying to find your way through each day. You’re in the middle of moving, you’ve broken your ankle, you are caring for a family member, you’ve just started a new job and it’s good but intense.
In these times, we tend to think our writer selves have to take a back seat. And yeah, sometimes in survival mode, that is the case. But hey – did you think about your story today, even just for a moment? Did it pop into your mind and remind you it’s still there, waiting for you to sit down with it when you have a second? And when that happened, did you beat yourself up for not making time to work on it? Don’t beat yourself up. You’ve got enough going on. Think of it as your story patting you on the head or giving you a knuckle bump, telling you it’s still there and it's not going anywhere.
You thought about your story. Maybe you even jotted down a thought or dictated a note into your phone while you were hurrying from point A to point B on your crammed schedule, or while you were resting on the couch because you need to rest, too.
That’s good. That’s still writing. It’s progress. It’ll be there, and you’re going to get back to it.
It’s the small victories.