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Writing When It Seems Impossible
by Kathryn Lay

I’ve been a prolific writer for many years now. My family knows that when I’m not writing, I get depressed and stressed. It’s a big part of my makeup and personality to express myself on paper.

Yet this past summer I was sick and in pain, emotionally at the loss of my mother as well as physically from an unknown medical issue. Then sudden surgery and a diagnosis of cancer. Chemo loomed. Two-thirds the way through it, I’ve lived through experiences, emotions, and information that I had not prepared myself for.

I’ve let my writing slide through the initial fear and pain, but now I know that who I am and my emotional stability depend on myself as a writer.

Perhaps this is too strong a statement for you, but how do you find the time, the emotions, the strength to continue writing when in a stressful situation? Do those dips in life pull you away from your creativity?

1. Make Time – When life is hectic, stressful, involved, out of control, we tend to drop some of the things in our life to make room for others. If writing is important, beneficial, and gives you joy, don’t let this be one of the things you sacrifice. Instead, drop some of your television watching or time chatting on the phone. Even if you can only give yourself 15-30 minutes a day, find that time to write and feed your creative soul.

2. Use Waiting Time – Do your circumstances or situation call for times of waiting? Take that time to write or research. I have had 3-4 hours of sitting in a chair with chemo treatments every 3 weeks for 8 sessions. Some of that time I’ve used to write, to research, to read writing magazines.

3. Learn from it – Have you learned something new from this situation in your life? Something you can share with others? Keep a journal of what you have learned, whether it’s information that can help others in the same situation, handling the emotions, fears, or doubts? Or how others have helped you during this time. I wrote an essay about losing my hair, a how-to about creative ways to bless the family of one who is ill, and more. I hope that as a writer, I can also use all of my experiences – good or bad – to help, inform, encourage, challenge, educate, and entertain readers.

4. Expand it -- Talk with others who have experienced the same thing you are going through. Do they have advice you can include in your pieces? Do they know of experts, organizations, websites or books that would be helpful? What resources have helped you? You may have spent lots of time researching information on a parenting problem, a marriage issue, health situation, job difficulty, etc. The article you write may be very needed by an editor of a magazine that speaks to such a reader, someone who would love to find that information in one article.

5. Personalize it – If you aren’t comfortable or able to put your personal touch to the piece and include a portion of your own experience, then you may not be ready yet to share it to unknown readers. While it’s close to you, keep a journal with everything you learn and experience for a time when you are ready. Be honest with your emotions while you are feeling them and accurate with the information you are learning while it’s still fresh.

Writing when life hurts isn’t easy, but it can be full of benefits for you as a writer and to your future readers.

© Copyright 2006, Kathryn Lay

Kathryn Lay is the author of 26 books for children, over 2000 articles, essays and stories for children and adults and the book from AWOC.COM Publishing, The Organized Writer is a Selling Writer. Check out her website at www.kathrynlay.com and email through rlay15@aol.com

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