2019 hasn’t been an easy year. Then again, is there really such a thing as an “easy year,” anyway? Life is an ebb and flow of opportunities and challenges, trials and joys. This year my grandmother passed away. Despite her age, she was healthy, and her loss was unexpected. It became difficult for me to write, especially because the humorous middle grade fantasy I was working on featured a grandmother as one of the main characters.
A one-size-fits-all grieving process doesn’t exist, but here are some things (not including faith-related things) that I’m trying to remind myself of as a writer as I wade through loss.
- It’s OK to take a break. Time stops for no man, and along with it, neither does the internet, the business world, or the publishing industry. But life goes beyond deadlines and word counts, and I try to tell myself it’s OK to take a break. Admittedly, taking a break can be difficult to do without feeling guilty. That said, though, I tend to know when I hit a wall with a story and where I’m at a point in which I’m no longer having fun and just doing it to do it. Yes, writing involves discipline, but I’ve also heard that readers won’t have as much fun with a story if the writer didn’t also have fun with it.
- Spend time with loved ones. I might not feel like being around others when I’m sad, but I know that leaving myself to my own thoughts isn’t always the best idea. Talking to others has helped me divert attention off of myself as well as gain a broader perspective.
- Read something different. Reading is an essential activity for any writer, but I found my desire for fiction lacking. I took an interest in nonfiction books instead and found them a nice change of pace. I’ve also enjoyed graphic novels because they can be faster to read.
- Play games. Although books are perhaps my primary source of inspiration as a writer, games also have an impact on my storytelling. I enjoy the immersive experience of a video game with an engrossing story, and I’ve enjoyed plenty of laughs with my Dungeons & Dragons group.
- Write stuff down for fun even if you think it’s not high quality content. Because I wasn’t going anywhere with my humorous middle grade book, I penned stuff that came to mind even though I knew it wasn’t going to be fit to publish. Somehow these words spawned an idea for a sci-fi novel for adults. I don’t know what will eventually become of this story idea, but even if it never gets published, maybe it’s just what I needed for this moment, and that’s good enough.
As I mentioned, a one-size-fits-all grieving process doesn’t exist. What are some things that you’ve done as a writer through loss? Please feel free to share your thoughts in the comments. Thank you!