When Change Affects Your Writing

By Delia Latham

After a recent move from California to Texas, my entire writing routine went out the window. Got turned on its head. Went on sabbatical. Took a long trip to Who-Knows-Where.

In other words, I wasn’t writing. I simply could not find the right “groove” to get going. I’m very much a creature of habit, and nothing around me fit into my habitual daily existence.

For instance:

My routine: I’m used to being an empty-nester with just hubby and me in our own little surroundings.
The change: We were living in the house with our daughter’s family…that’s two more adults and two more children than I’m accustomed to living with. Add another two people (my youngest son and youngest daughter also moved to Texas, and moved in temporarily with their older sister), and the house became a public bed-and-breakfast, with constant activity going on around me.
My routine:  I’m accustomed to writing late into the night, and most often sleeping late the next morning. Yes, my sleeping schedule is skewed by “normal” standards, but I don’t think it’s that uncommon amongst writers.
The change:  Our “bedroom” was no longer private. We slept in the game room, with our bed right out in the open. Sleeping “in” while two children and three adults got ready to dive into a new day was out of the question, as was staying up late. Afraid the light would keep everyone else awake, I avoided having it on after a reasonable hour.
My routine: I most often write in the living room – not in my office. Probably not a great practice, but I’m more comfortable on the sofa than in a desk chair. It works for me, since hubby is most often outside, working in the yard or garage.
The change: Since we weren’t in our place, hubby didn’t have his own yard or garage to do with as he pleased. So he spent more time inside…watching television in the living room. I’m not one of those authors who writes with background noise. I want – no, I need – quiet surroundings. Needless to say, quiet wasn’t easily obtained.

The list could go on, but you get the picture. My entire world had been turned on its head. And my mind wasn’t dealing with the new situation enough to allow creativity to flow.

But I was on deadline…and had four more deadlines to meet this year. I had to write, so I had to find the right stone and slingshot to bring the down the giant of CHANGE that stood in my path.

Here’s how I did it:

Lots of prayer. No real accomplishment can happen if I’m not following God’s lead. So the first thing I needed to do was release my need to control the situation into His hands, and allow Him to take the lead. I prayed for inspiration, and peace, and a settled mind. I asked for a creative boost, good health to work with, patience to overcome the constant interruptions, and gratitude for the roof over my head, even if that roof wasn’t my own.

An open mind. Other perfectly good writing times and places do exist, besides my habitual little nook. I had to actively watch for those windows of opportunity, and hurl myself through them while they remained open, rather than getting hung up on the fact they weren’t “my idea” of the proper times, places, or environments.

When the children left for school, rather than taking off to explore our new surroundings with DH every day, I had to make a conscious decision to stay home alone and write, while hubby tooled around the beautiful green countryside and sought out all the places we needed to know about.

Sharing with friends. Without my writer friends, I’m not sure I could have pulled through this and met a single deadline. Mary Manners offered loads of love and prayer. Tanya Stowe and Sally Laity were there for me, with encouragement and support (critiques, willingness to listen, helpful suggestions — and more prayer.) No man is an island, and neither is a writer. We spend lots of time secluded from the rest of the world, but we still need contact with other people—real, live, breathing human beings. We need a shoulder to cry on now and then, and we need to have someone tell us everything’s going to be all right. We need friends.

Accepting that I can’t be or do everything. Because we’re living with our daughter, we both wanted to help. We certainly didn’t want to add more to her already full load of responsibility. So we pitched in to help whenever and wherever we could. But I had to accept that I couldn’t be the sole dishwasher, floor scrubber and wash woman. I could help, but I had to step back and allow others to do their part as well.  Yes, a great deal of my writing is done in my head, while I’m caught up in other things, but I still require a certain amount of dedicated, fingers-to-the-keyboard, writing time. I had to figure out how to stay at my computer now and then, even while others around me cooked and cleaned and washed dirty clothing.

Believing I can do it. At first, it all looked like too much. I simply couldn’t see far enough past all the suitcases and beds and scattered belongings to believe I could accomplish anything. But, again, I didn’t have a choice. So I had to convince myself I could write under my new circumstances – with God’s help.

Change can be exciting…but it’s also scary.
Change can be good…or very bad.
Change can result in great profit…or horrendous loss.

But change cannot stop anyone who refuses to be stopped.

If you’re feeling overwhelmed by change, take a moment. Breathe deep. Say a prayer. Look around you, and get a handle on where you are, and what has to happen to make writing possible. Share with a friend—even if they can’t change your situation, they can offer the relief of getting the stress off your chest, perhaps a bit of objective advice, and prayer. 

With all of that done, believe in yourself. You can deal with change…and maybe it’s time. Sometimes we need a good kick in the pants and a shove in another direction. Maybe that’s God’s way of helping us grow and become the people…and the writers…He wants us to be.

Write on!


Delia3 - webDelia Latham lives in Texas with her husband, Johnny. She writes inspirational romance and women’s fiction, and loves hearing from her readers.



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