My Novel Updates Writing Advice

Writing and Grief

Today’s post is near and dear to me for a number of reasons, and I expect it will resonate with a number of you as well. Let’s get personal, shall we?

I’ve been working pretty hard on my story, but early last month I realized that I need to increase my daily word count if I want to reach my goal of having a finished, polished manuscript that’s ready to submit to an agent by the end of the year. I started really plugging away at it for about a week, and I started to feel good about my progress. 

This is life, though, and things don’t always work out the way we plan them.

Someone very close to me passed away. I was out of town for a week, and there were arrangements to make, plus travel and everything else that goes along with a death in the family. Emotionally I was shot. I’ve lost people before, but it’s never happened to someone so close to me without any warning. It was terrifying and painful, and for a minute I hurt so much I thought I might die, too.

Writing was no longer a priority. I took my shabby old laptop with me, but even in the rare moments when I had time and privacy, I didn’t have any peace of mind. Since we’ve been home, I’ve been struggling to get back up to even my original level of output.

And that’s okay.

In the past, I’ve abandoned projects for less than this. I walked away from a big one several years ago when doctors diagnosed my grandma with Alzehimer’s because I didn’t know how to handle the stress. I’m older and wiser now, and I understand that grief is normal. You don’t just bounce back from a big loss. It’s a process that’s going to take as long as it takes, and that’s all there is to it.

Grief is the cost of love, and it’s a price we pay in tears.

When you’re dealing with stress or heightened emotions, give yourself time and space to experience them. If you try to push your feelings down and force yourself to work around them, you’ll end up hurting longer and possibly open yourself up to things like anxiety attacks or intrusive thoughts. 

The friend I lost was my writing buddy, someone I’ve known almost half my life. Whenever I open my word processor, thoughts of her come flooding back to me, and I end up crying a lot. Instead of putting my book aside or straight up quitting, I’m trying to stick with my routine. Even if I don’t write, or I only manage a paragraph or a sentence or two, I still get my laptop out every couple of days and give it a try. At this rate, I may not make it to my goal, but I’m determined to finish this book no matter how long it takes.

Luckily I have a pretty big backlog of blog posts saved as drafts, so it was easy to schedule a few posts ahead of time while I was away and keep things running here. I’ll be back next week with a new post, and you can check in on Friday for the first of the exercises I’m posting.

WC: 40,791

Image Credit: Dayne Topkin, Unsplash.

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