Our Pages

Thursday, January 13, 2011

When the Going Gets Tough...

When you’ve spent the last few years with a decent writing schedule (kicking out a good two thousand words a day), a goal and the motivation to make it happen - it makes it difficult when life gets in the way. And it will happen. At one point or another in your life, you’re going to have to work through an issue, or a number of issues, and decide what the most important priority is for you and your family.

Writing has been a dream of mine since I was very young. I’ve written off and on for fifteen years and finally got serious about it two years ago. I've developed a tough skin from rejection. I've scheduled time EVERY day to write and planned out a long and short term career goal sheet. I know what I wanted and how to get it. I will be published, of that I am certain.

But life hit me hard at the end of October in 2010. After determining life was going great and I could quit my job to stay home with the little one and pursue my dream of writing in the process, suddenly my husband got laid off. The blow was so unexpected and jolting my husband and I both suffered a little shell shock. But we couldn’t wallow. We had to pick ourselves back up and take care of business. And so must my writing.

I haven’t given up my goals or my dreams. So I’m here to give a short list of advice to those of us who must suffer a little set back in our lives from time to time.

1. I had to realize that this wasn’t permanent. It’s temporary and I will be able to get back on the bandwagon soon enough. Sometimes life is a hard pill to swallow, but when you realize that this too shall pass, it becomes so much easier to bear.

2. Find a solution. Even a temporary one. I had to make quick decisions and one of them included putting off writing until I could reevaluate our lives. Putting aside my writing freed up time to search for a job. I had to go back to work and managed to weasel my way back into my old job. It was a difficult decision to make but make it, I did. This relieved some of the financial burden and stress. Now, weeks later, I can write –even if only a little- stress free.

3. Perfection isn’t possible. I can’t work full time, take care of the house and the kids, and meet my writing goals. So I had to ask the hubby to take more of the chores off my shoulders and allow me some free time after work to relax and write. It’s okay to ask for help, we all need it at some point in time.

4. Learn to be grateful for what I can do. After work one day last week, I managed to eke out a whopping six hundred words in under an hour. Not much compared to my usual goals but it was more than I’d managed since the life-altering event occurred, and I was ecstatic. If we can’t meet our daily goals every day, accept it and hope for a better day tomorrow. But make sure to sit down and try to write every day.

In the end, only you know what’s best for you and your family, but setting goals and priorities for yourself will get you where you want to be in life. Make decisions and stick with them. Life’s little temporary set backs are just that, temporary. If you remember this and work through them you can have your cake and eat it too.

There’s a little quote I’ve learned to live by... “Obstacles are placed in our paths to determine whether we really wanted something or just thought we did.” By Dr. Harold Smith.

Take an obstacle and overcome it, keep moving in the right direction and you’ll get to your destination no matter what happens. My goals for this year are smaller than last year’s but just as satisfying. I plan to finish my fifth manuscript by the end of April. Finish editing my current wip by the end of March and query at least twenty agents in May and start a new project –number six- by summer’s end.

So my question to you is this what advice can you give when life throws a wrench in your plans? And what are your goals for the new year?


  1. Melissa,

    You are a remarkably resilient person. I don't have any great advice other than to keep in mind that this too shall pass, break things up into small steps instead of looking at the whole and panicking, and be as kind or kinder to yourself as you would be to others.

    My writing goals are to meet my deadlines, of course, and I'll finish book 4 of my series by spring.

    My leisure goal is to take belly dancing starting next week. :)

  2. I am always amazed at how much writing I can get done in shorter bits of time. These are the fifteen minutes or so when I'm waiting to do something else, or which I waste because they seem too short to actually accomplish anything.

    Sometimes making a list of what I want to accomplish with certain writing projects is a good use of the shorter timeframe. Then I am raring to go when I do have an extended length of time to write.

    Good luck to you and your family. These are definitely challenging times for all of us right now.

  3. Melissa, just hang in there. There are times when I feel like there's too much going on to get any writing in. When it is only for a few days, I handle it okay. But sometimes it will last for weeks or months. At those times, I have to make it a point to carve out some writing time--even if it is just fifteen minutes a day, or an hour twice a week. Maybe you can try for small spurts like that.

  4. Donna,

    You make a good point. Sometimes I'll use the minutes waiting for a doctor appointment or for my son to get out of football practice to jot down plot ideas. Sometimes I'll brainstorm and figure out exactly where my problem is. Maybe it's the change of location. Hmm...

  5. Hi Melissa! It's good to have you back here with us. I've found that creating a schedule is helpful. Even if I'm not a hundred percent on task, at least I know what I'm supposed to do when the chaos stops.

  6. Thanks for stopping by ladies and yes, sometimes I can get more done in a shorter period of time but there are others where I feel like its forced. Today I managed to get about four hundred words down and I edited an entire chapter on my lunch break at work. So I'm happy with that. Great advice everyone and great goals!