What to Do When Real Life Gets in the Way

Let’s face it. Real life gets in the way of our best intentions, at least my best intentions anyway. If you’re like me, you make plans. Big plans. Out of this world plans. Change the course of human history plans. But then real life happens, and plans end up waylaid, put on hold at best, forgotten forever at worst. In my book, there are four (maybe more. But I think these mostly cover it) ways life interrupts.

1. Unexpected Events.

You get sick. The dog, cute as she is, pukes on the rug. The car breaks down and you spend hours getting it fixed. An appointment takes too long. People drop by for a visit. Good or bad, unexpected events mess up my productivity. I’m going strong, and then bam. Something crazy happens and writing becomes a distant memory. I wake up the next morning or next week or next month and remember “oh yeah. I was writing something. Wasn’t I?” One time I was in a car accident, a pretty bad one (like the kind where people in the car with me got really hurt and sued me later. That kind of bad). I never wanted to get back in the driver’s seat again, or a car for that matter. But my dad made me. I still flinch at most intersections, but I’m a decent driver these days. If Dad didn’t force me back in the car, I would probably still be riding my bike to work. Writing is no different. Just because life messes up your writing plans doesn’t mean you’re a failure. The key is to get back on the horse after you realize you’ve slacked off or gotten distracted.

2. Expected Events.

I always think big expected events won’t mess up my routine, but somehow they always do. Take my sister’s wedding, for instance. I had it all planned out how much I was going to write while we were away to celebrate her big day. And, it didn’t happen. I used to do the same thing over Thanksgiving break–plan to write papers, study for finals, finish up projects while the turkey was cooking. But we all know how that went. When you know a big event is going to happen, you have to be honest with yourself and realize it will throw off your writing schedule. Planning to work on a trip for your sister’s wedding isn’t the best idea. Thinking you’ll write on vacation–you’re kidding yourself. Allow yourself to take a break, and then hit it hard when the party’s over.

3. Too Much Work.

This is one of those really good things. Too much work means you’re doing your job right, but it leaves little time to write for your own blog, keep up your own website, or market your skills to new clients. I’m guilty of letting too much work stop me from working for myself. After all, when I’m finished writing three articles, the last thing I want to do is sit down and write my own blog post. It’s key when you’re busy to keep up with your own writing and website so that when work slows down a bit, you don’t have to start from the ground up to find new clients. Don’t set unreasonable expectations. But don’t stop, either.

4. Other Responsibilities.

And, let’s face it. Writers have other stuff to do. We have lives that don’t include writing. I, for one, garden. In the summer, I have to decide if I A) will choose to be cooped up with a laptop in the evenings after my 8-5 or B) will pull those pesky weeds that are threatening my snow peas. Typically the snow peas win. And then there’s supper to cook, a house to clean, a dog to walk, you get the picture. We all have more to do than we can handle. Choose which responsibility is your priority and work from there. And don’t forget. Live a little.