Many times, the hardest part about writing is making time for it. We writers are fantastic procrastinators.
Sometimes, though, extenuating circumstances literally wrench the time out of our grasp.
This is what I have been dealing with for almost two years now. I won’t lie and say that I never procrastinate when I could, or rather should, be writing. But I’m also an introvert, and I know that I need time without commitments to recharge – including time where I don’t have to write.
But we’re talking about overcoming obstacles, not personality struggles, at the moment.
What are legitimate obstacles?
In my case, it’s been holding together a family that is falling apart, at times. Neither of my grandparents drive anymore, so my mom and I split their chores between us – I do the grocery shopping for them, she does just about everything else.
It has also been a case of cutting ties on harmful relationships (in my case, a verbally and emotionally abusive biological father, which is difficult when your mother is still married to him), and knowing when to set boundaries for the relationships which should be healthy, but still need a little extra tender, loving care.
But there’s an added dimension to this as well:
Despite cutting ties with that harmful relationship, my mother is under an extra amount of stress because her husband has also been ill for quite some time, to the point that he is no longer working.
I dread the days when my phone won’t stop ringing.
But I can’t turn it off. Because if I do, I know the one phone call I can’t miss will come then.
So what do you do?
You set boundaries.
In my case, it’s been a matter of being honest with whoever needs/wants me at that moment when they ask, “Do you have a minute?”
I’ve learned to say, “No.” And I follow it up with, “I’m working on something, but I can call you back in X minutes/hours. Unless it’s an emergency?”
Sometimes it is an emergency, even if it’s not life-or-death. But most of the time it is something that can wait a few minutes (or hours) until you finish a project.
You also learn to utilize your time.
There are apps to help with that, like StayFocusd, which blocks your internet browser. But it does not block very important things like Spotify. Because reasons.
StayFocusd has been my lifesaver the past several months, when I kept getting distracted by the internet because I wanted to just not think, even when I knew I could find it in me to finish a writing project.
There’s also Write or Die, which, well, forces you to write. You may think it won’t work for you, but you’d be surprised. Just try it once.
I don’t blame you if you ignore Kamikaze Mode (when you stop typing, it starts UN-typing your words), though. I never use it. Usually flashing colors are enough to get me to return my focus to typing.
But above all, when life is literally throwing you from the frying pan and into the fire, take time to nurse your burns. You can’t write if you can’t think.
Learning to say “no” is as vital to your mental health as it is to your writing career, and you can’t write if you can’t think.