Ginny McBlain,
    Romance Writer

Ginny's Writing Tips

Writing and Personal Crises

Writing a book requires discipline. That means curtailing let's-do-lunch dates, shopping for the fun of it and days with your feet up and your nose in a book. I was taught I should write something every day, even if is one sentence. Good advice? Not bad, but I've had to modify it a bit.

When I'm writing a book, I work Monday through Friday. I learned early on to devote the weekend to my family. There are errands to run, social engagements, meetings to attend, grandchildren to play with and on Sunday, the morning is devoted to church and Sunday School.

I've also been told to grit my teeth and write, despite going through a crisis. Easier said than done. When does a writer give her/himself permission to set the book aside and devote time to the situation?

The answer is as individual as the crisis. Among my friendship circle I've seen mothers with young children and teenagers forced to give up writing temporarily. The distractions were simply too great. No one can expect a person to write when suffering illness. Personally, I am unable to write after surgery. Anesthesia plays havoc with my creative thinking. The type of surgery and the length of time under makes a difference on when I can write again. It can be a matter of weeks, although once it was fifteen months. A death in the family requires everyone's immediate attention. The same is true when a loved one is seriously ill. Weddings, in your immediate family or your own, are often too big a distraction to allow writing time. A national or international incident can keep me glued to the television. Remember 9-11 and the space shuttle disasters? Only you can determine your time constraints and your emotional ability to cope.

What happens when an author faces a crisis and a deadline looms? Do your best to get the work finished and submitted on time. You have a deadline for a good reason. Publishers have schedules to meet and failure to send a work in on time throws them off. If there is no way to meet your deadline, communicate with your publisher as soon as possible. Explain the situation and hope an extension is offered.

I learned not to submit a work until it is finished. I thought submitting a half finished manuscript was safe, especially when I knew I had more than a year to complete the work. That book was a month late because I could not write for more than a year.

Some people will write their best work during a personal crisis. If that's you, more power to you. If not, get back to work as soon as you are able.