When Life Throws Your Writing Routine Off Balance

There is a lot of advice online about how to squeeze writing into a busy day. We even recently posted a fantastic guest post by author Tristina Wright about how focusing on writing for just five minutes at a time can help you get more words down.

But what happens when a big life event throws your whole writing routine off balance - or even halts it for a while? For me, this happened when I recently had a baby. But for you, it could be getting married, a job promotion, an illness, etc.

When I gave birth to my adorable baby girl last fall, my life was changed for the better. But my writing pretty much stopped - for months. Between my postpartum recovery, adjusting to new mommy-hood, and the sudden sleep deprivation, writing took a backseat to everything else. It wasn't that I didn't want to write, but for those first few months, it became more important to bond with my daughter, sleep and figure out my new normal.

Eventually, when my daughter was a few months old and I felt more adjusted, I was ready to get back to writing. But it was hard. No longer could I write whenever I wanted to. Even getting five minutes here and there felt like a big challenge. It was difficult to come to terms with the fact that even though I really wanted to write, there was now limited space for it in my life.

But it is possible to find balance again with your writing, even if that balance doesn't look the same as before. If you've been faced with a life event recently that's thrown your whole writing routine off kilter, here's my advice for you:

1. Be Kind to Yourself.

Life happens. Sometimes it's for a good reason, and sometimes not, but either way, big life changes happen to everyone. During my maternity leave, I felt guilty that I wasn't writing, especially when I saw how much my peers were producing. But I had to learn to be nice to myself and remember that my manuscripts weren't going anywhere, publishing wasn't ending anytime soon (thank goodness), and even if I had to take a few months off, I was still a writer. That change in perspective made a huge difference.

2. Be Flexible

As Tristina's post points out, you can find five minute increments throughout your day to write or revise your manuscript. Maybe you won't be able to be as productive as before, but you can start creating a new writing routine. This may mean working at times when you never would have before, like early in the morning or late at night. It may mean writing in a notebook or on your phone more often, until you have the chance to get to a computer. The more you allow yourself to be flexible, and write whenever and however you can, the more you'll ultimately get done.

3. Be Passionate

The more excited you are about your project, the easier it will be to jump back into it when you have a free minute. I participated in Camp NaNoWriMo this April, and ended up switching projects a week in because the first book I was working on stopped exciting me. But once I switched to a fresh project I'd been itching to write, the words flowed faster, and I got so much more done during the small writing sessions I had. Even if you aren't able to switch projects, or don't want to, you can find ways to keep your passion for your manuscript alive. Create a playlist or a Pinterest board. Write a love list. Anything to make you yearn to write, so that when you can, the words flow.

I love the above quote from India.Arie's song "Growth" because it's so true. Big life events happen all the time, and they usually come in phases. You have to learn to embrace them and be open to adjusting your routine. Once you can do that, you will find your balance again.