Dear Romance Book Coach, I started a new job a month ago, and even though it’s part-time, I’ve been struggling to plan my new story. It’s just so hard to focus with the new job hanging over my head. Plus, my role is pretty demanding, which doesn’t help. I already feel like this job is taking over my life, and now my creativity is suffering. I'm blocked! Do you have any tips for juggling writing and a day job? How do I switch between work-mode and being creative? Sincerely, A struggling writer.
Does this sound familiar? Maybe it isn’t a new job that’s keeping you from writing, maybe it’s a new baby, or illness. Maybe your teenager is getting mixed up with the wrong crowd, and you’re in a constant state of worry and can’t write.
Whatever it is that’s “hanging over your head”, this post is for you. May it help to ease the burden, just a little.
Can’t write? Is it due to “life” or upheaval?
Here’s the thing, dear writer: there are times when our days will be filled with more than just “life”. More than the hustle and bustle of getting the kids to school or soccer practice, more than the daily grind of the nine-to-five, more than the unexpected visits from family and friends. As crazy as it is sometimes, “life” we can all handle.
When it’s just “life” we’re dealing with, we can *usually* find time to fit some writing in. Whether it requires getting up at 5am before anyone else is awake, or perhaps jotting down notes or making voice recordings during the daily commute — no matter how busy we are, there are always opportunities to find small chunks of time to get some words down. (I’ll write a blog post soon on how to establish a writing routine.)
But when we’re dealing with more than “life”, sadly, what we often find ourselves in is a period of upheaval. And that can have a huge impact on our ability to write.
What is upheaval?
Let me share with you a story.
Back in 2015, my father was diagnosed with stage four cancer. Soon after his diagnosis, I left my part-time job for a full-time job in a new industry. The shake-up to my daily routine wasn’t easy, as I had two young children. As the months passed and Dad’s illness progressed, I made myself available whenever I could to take him to medical appointments — my mum struggled to get him there, as she had her own health issues. In 2017, Dad passed, and Mum’s health rapidly declined. Within months of Dad’s passing, Mum had been hospitalised on numerous occasions before finally entering aged care. She was in her new home for all of nine days before she took her last breath.
These years and the dark months that followed was my period of upheaval.
Did I write during this time? Perhaps. Though I barely recall. What I do know is that sometimes I’d go months where the thought of opening my manuscript filled me with dread, and I’m fairly certain at one point I went a whole year without writing.
Of course, what I experienced was a major life upheaval. Not all periods of upheaval, however, have to be so extreme.
Your dream is worth it.
You deserve to write a story you can be proud of.
Your characters deserve the most epic and transformational journey you can give them.
Your reader deserves the most compelling and life-changing love story you’re capable of writing.
Visit the RTP Academy today and learn to romance the page with romance book coach, Libby M Iriks.
Take our struggling writer, for example. Let’s call her Sally.
Sally was a freelancer who worked from home, so when she took on a part-time job, she entered a period of upheaval. Only she didn’t realise this. Instead, she started beating herself up, telling herself that she should be writing because she only worked part-time. But everything is relative.
Below is my response to Sally:
Here’s how I see your situation: you started a new job a month ago, and the job is demanding. It doesn’t matter that the job is only part-time; that’s a big shake-up to your world! You’re learning about a new industry, as well as all the new work processes you’re responsible for completing. Plus, you’re still getting a feel for the work environment and finding your place among your colleagues. That’s a whole lot of stuff to be dealing with — no wonder you’re feeling blocked!
Do you see where I’m going with this, dear writer?
Dealing with upheaval
Sometimes you just need to give yourself time.
Time to readjust. Time to heal. Time to breathe.
Maybe this isn’t what you want to hear. Because when we have a passion for something, we just want to be doing it every spare chance we get, right? But the thing is, the pressure we put on ourselves to write can stifle, or even extinguish, our creativity.
The number one tip I give to writers that I firmly believe in is that you have to be kind to yourself. (And, contrary to popular belief, you don’t have to write every day.)
So, if you’re reading this article, my advice to you is this: be kind to yourself. Give yourself time to find your new rhythm. Don’t force the ideas if they’re not there, just trust that they’ll come once your mind isn’t overworked dealing with all the upheaval to your life. I guarantee that giving yourself time and space to breathe will do wonders for helping you get over any writing slump.
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