Writing in Times of Transition

I thought I might be the only blogger not writing something related to the election, but I realize that we Americans have been anticipating a time of transition for a long time, and that transition has been finalized tonight with the election of Senator Barack Obama as the president elect.

I only got a bit over 600 words in tonight on my NaNo, but I was glad to get anything in at all. I find that I have trouble writing in times of transition, and I bet I’m not the only one who faces this. In transition, my brain feels so full of processing the change that it’s hard for me to make space for creative endeavors. In the past two years, I’ve gone through a lot of personal and professional transitions, including my most recent transition to freelance work. Although I made this decision in large part to devote more time to writing, I didn’t factor in the “transition effect,” and its power over my fledgling novel has been dire (I’m only at half has many words as I should be at this stage in the game).

So, what’s the best way to deal with transition’s effect on writing? I’m a strong advocate for discipline, but when your brain and your hands are full with your own life story as it unfolds before you, go easy on yourself. This is something I’ve learned the hard way, after feeling like a “failure” again and again for having trouble applying myself to my writing when I was in the midst of great change in my life. Eventually, I accepted that I didn’t do myself or my creativity any good by beating myself up for being too exhausted to produce a lot of work. Be compassionate, promise that you’ll go back to your regular writing when your life falls back into place (and keep that promise), and redirect your creative energy rather than squelching it or forcing it. Try a different kind of writing; put aside the novel or the blog for some good old fashioned journaling. Write about yourself. Write about your transition. Write your plans for getting your life back in order. Write about how you can’t wait to get back to your novel. Not only will it keep your writing muscles flexed, but it will also help you come to terms with everything that’s taking up space in your brain. It might take two days, and it might take two weeks. But either way, you’ll find yourself on the path to productivity again in no time.