Wednesday, July 17, 2013

When Life Gets in the Way: An Exercise in Courage

There are times in life when the projects you’re working on simply grind to a halt. The past two months have been such for me. As you’ve no doubt noticed, I’ve neglected blogging for more Saturdays than I care to count. I do have an excuse: two cross-continental moves between Asia and Europe, then Europe and North America, made me rather busy. That’s not to mention living out of a suitcase as well as fitting in sight-seeing in Europe and seeing friends and family in America. However, the point of the matter is that I have not been writing or blogging during this time. How can I ever find the courage to start back again?

You see, it takes courage to begin anew when you’ve neglected to work on something for a long while. Your conscience may start to bug you and you think, “I really should start to work on a new blog post…” but then things happen, and life gets in the way, and you don’t take the time to get started. In fact, it can be easier to push the projects aside and ignore that small voice in your head after a while. Soon it’ll be one month, then two, then three since you’ve written anything.

What’s a struggling sometimes-writer to do?

Here are some tips that I’ve found helpful for times like now when my writing has ground to a halt.
  • Discover what made you stop in the first place: Were you bored by your story? Was your life just “too busy” for writing? Did the genre of story not appeal to you any more? Did you get five or fifteen new ideas and couldn’t decide which one to work on? Did work/school become too urgent and time-consuming? Whatever your problem was, by identifying it, you make it easier to avoid the problem this time. Think back to the last time you wrote and the circumstances surrounding it, and see if you can think of what made your writing slow down.
  • Schedule time to write: there are always moments in the day in which you don’t have anything urgent or important to do. First pinpoint those times—maybe fifteen minutes after breakfast, half an hour before lunch, or an hour late at night. Then schedule some time to write then. The more intentional you are, and the more a part of your routine you make your writing, the easier it will be to start afresh.
  • Remember, the first time is the hardest: Any writer will know that beginning a story, a blank page, a fresh piece of paper, can be an intimidating challenge. But you have to start somewhere. Write one word, then another, and pretty soon you’ll discover that the most difficult part was starting. (Although finishing a project can be just as tricky…but that’s a subject for another post.)
  • Above all, don’t give up: It’s never too late to start writing again. Never fool yourself into thinking that you’re a horrible writer who will never finish anything and nobody wants to read your work. I want to assure you that every single person has a worthwhile story to tell. Whether or not that story is the one you’re working on now, you can be assured that you are adding something of value to the world. You can even find yourself a team of fellow writers or encouragers to keep you going and remind you that what you’re writing is significant. Just don’t give up!

So here I am, concluding the first blog post I’ve written in over a month. It’s been difficult to write, but I hope that these tips on courage help you just as much as they’ve helped me. Enjoy writing!