Do you have a crisis plan for your writing?
If I were to ask you, “Hey, how’s the writing going?” and your response would be something like, “Writing?! I’m just trying to survive, over here!” then this is the time for you to:
Take a Pause
I hate the phrase “unprecedented times”, but the truth is, humans are dealing with expectations that are new to us.
A hundred years ago, life was much more straightforward. (It was a lot more brutal in many ways, too!) There were life and death consequences but far fewer options.
Just ask yourself what your ancestors would have done in your situation. You’ll either get a good laugh or a somber reminder that, whoa, we are indeed living in the future!
If you’re feeling stressed, overwhelmed, or hopeless, just take a pause. Let go of the weight. Surrender it. I believe that we are created to create. You don’t have to believe that, but it helps me keep perspective. I’m not created to control other people, to save them, or to know all the answers.
With that reminder, I feel free, and I can make a little space to think and breathe. You need to breathe, too!
Name the Problem
I have been amazed in the last few years at how many times I think I know what a conversation is about, only to discover that my definition of a word or idea is completely different than the other person’s definition. We’re totally missing one another; when we are careful and agree on a term, then we can move forward.
The same thing happens in my own thoughts!
If I’m not careful, I’ll think that XYZ is my problem, when really it’s just the symptom. Only by carefully asking, “Why?” over and over again, do I reach the real root.
Get careful and clear about the problem, so you can choose a solution that actually addresses the root cause, not the visible symptoms.
Related Post: Storytelling in Times of Trouble
What Can You Control
Now to get brutally honest: you can’t fix everything.
In my family, we have a loved one who has received a tough diagnosis.
I can’t fix that.
So we sat down and talked about the things we CAN control. We asked our loved one what THEY want, and in the coming days we’ll defer to those desires as much as we can.
In your crisis, there will be things you just can’t fix. You weren’t ever meant to. And that still feels awful.
But you can control so many things.
I recently saw a list similar to this one on social media. Make your own list of things you can control.
List the Alternatives
Do a massive brain dump ON PAPER. (Sometimes, you just need to have everything written out long hand to not just see but really comprehend.) Every task that is screaming for attention, every obligation or duty you feel you owe to others, and all the things you feel like you should be doing–including your writing.
Now ask yourself, if you fell into a wormhole two minutes from now, which of the items on your list would take care of themselves somehow. Cross those out.
Prioritize the remaining items. Mark the must-do tasks with a #1, the obligations with a #2, and the items like your writing that you owe yourself with a #3.
(You probably found a couple that missed the first round of elimination. Cross them out now.)
Focus on one must-do task. When it’s done (or you need a break) set the timer for twenty minutes and work on a #3 task. Go back to the must-do, then tackle a #2. Alternate like this as you’re able: must-do, want to do, must-do, should-do.
By including your #3 items, you’ll refresh yourself and have little breaks that help you to feel like YOU again. If you need permission, your ol’ buddy Cole grants it. <3
Get Outside Help
You probably have a short list of people who have said things in the past like, “If there’s anything you need, just let me know.”
Now is the time to let them know. Call in a favor–this is a crisis!
Delegate and hire help if you can. Maybe you have a go-getter neighbor girl who can gather mail, water plants, pet-sit, or take care of other to-do list bric-a-brak.
And most of all, seek professional help if you need counseling. (Not your roommate from college who is, like, totally an empath…) This can be with a licensed counselor at a firm, with a pastor or chaplain, or an anonymous text or call to mental health hotlines HERE and HERE.
Don’t feel weird or hesitant–everyone needs advice, especially with complicated situations during times of profound stress. Get clarity and an outside perspective! If you can’t decide if you need it, then I say just go for it. You’ll feel better and clearer.
Don’t Give Up
One certain thing about life: it’s always changing. The old proverb is true, for new life in the spring, a flower has to fall to seed and endure the harsh winter.
This crisis will pass, and you will still be a writer. Don’t give up on your writing, even if now–today–it feels impossible to write. Make notes, work on your outline, save images to a Pinterest board (or even gather inspiration by reading articles I’ve saved on my own Pinterest boards, HERE), just take whatever small steps you can until the sky clears and you can raise your head again.
This is grit.
And you’ve got it!
NOW YOU: What else is important to include in a crisis plan for your writing?
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Crisis? What crisis? Oh, that would be my 8 year old grandson who has developed alopecia and now hates going to school. A friend who has developed stomach cancer, an elderly neighbour (she’s 84) who is heartbroken because her son who will no longer speak to her. None of these are solvable by me, but they all affect me deeply – especially my little grandson (he’s my baby). School runs take longer and are filled with tears, neighbour needs more attention, friend needs support and extra prayer. I’ve hardly done any writing for almost three years (Covid has been a b****) I find my best ideas come to me when I’m in a café, but I can’t spend 8 hours a day in a café – they tend to want you to buy lots of food and drink. Write from home? Not possible – I live with family and one family member watches TV 16 hours a day with surround sound. Even now the walls are vibrating. The local library finally open after all our Covid restrictions is sounding pretty good – even with crying babies and kids running amok. ~sigh~ what ever happened to quiet libraries 🤭
OOooff! Sounds like chaos to me! I’ve relied heavily on my earplugs, noise-cancelling ear buds, and a LOT of negotiating with family 😉 Keep at it, Lyn, this too shall pass <3