Hello, again! Maureen Pratt here for my monthly blog post. And what a month it’s becoming! No doubt many of you have multiple works in progress gracing your keyboards, computer screens, notebooks, and imaginations. Some deadlines, too. The life of a working writer. And then…something happens. How do we handle health and other emergencies and keep our writing in mind and heart, too? We are writers, after all, and writers, well, we write.
As I write this, I am in the midst of a significant family emergency. One minute, I was working on a new magazine article, and hours later, wham! Still consumed by the situation, I have come up for a bit of air – I know that other writers experience the same thing. Certainly those of us with ongoing health conditions have experienced “life intervening,” fracturing the fragile status that we create in which we pen our work. So, with this in mind, I have some suggestions for us working writers “when something happens, and especially how we can keep our writing skills going along the way:
1) Gather. Now is the time to gather prayer warriors – friends, family, church community – to pray mightily over the situation, you, and all involved. Write a specific list of prayer intentions, if you feel it appropriate, so people may pour special attention onto these points. Also, people will offer to help. You might not even know what help you need, yet, but write down their names, phone numbers and email addresses on a list and keep it handy. People offer to help for a reason – to help!
2) Prioritize. Notify your editor that something has happened. Talk with him or her about the deadline or other considerations, and speak about the work itself. Write down a log of this conversation, especially noting what you said about the piece you are writing; in the frenzy of the early days of a crisis, it’s easy to forget parts of conversations, and these notes may come in very handy when you turn back to what you’re writing.
3) Focus. Life events need our attention. Life happens. God brings us experiences to bring us through them. So, understand that your writing routine has been interrupted and that you won’t be as productive now as before. But still try to write every day, even if it is notes about the crisis you’re going through now. Use your skills wherever you can.
4) Care. This is especially for my brothers and sisters who have chronic pain and/or illness. During a crisis, please take care of you. Let your doctor know what’s going on, especially from the medical side (shock, for example, can change how we metabolize different medications). Let him or her be part of that support net. Write a health log during this time, to track how your illness’ symptoms or pain levels fluctuate – and keep in touch with your doctor!
5) Remember. Keep a part of your work-in-progress near at hand while you’re making calls and doing other things to manage the live event. This could be a copy of your manuscript, a picture of a setting or character, or even the pen with which you inked your contract. Keep something handy to remind you – you will write full-bore again!
6) Walk. Crises are often long journeys. So, too, is writing, whether a poem, article, or novel. Spend time getting exercise and linking it to the journey you are on. Take solace in how God is walking with you. Write down your thoughts along these walks (or, rather, after these walks – no writing while walking lest you fall!). Write a little. Blog or Tweet. Or not, as you feel. But know you can. You still can journey with words, if not to Paris, at least to the corner store.
7) Find comfort. Take hope. Pray. Believe. Now is hard. Now is devastating. Now is a time you wish wasn’t happening. But, now is now. Keep your pen handy for times when you can exercise your writing muscles, even when something happens. And know that you’re a writer. You’re meant to write, thanks to God’s grace. And a writer writes.
I am still in the middle of my emergency. I almost told my CAN brothers and sisters in Christ that I couldn’t blog this month because of what’s happening. But, then, I thought these above points have helped me thus far and will continue to help and maybe, just maybe, they might help you, dear reader, too. So, from my heart to yours and then back to manage the situation here. It’s hard now, but it will get easier. And through it all, Child of God, we are writers. And writers write!