How To Navigate Tough Times & Get Back To Writing

by @thewritermama on October 28, 2013 · 5 comments

First of all, you are not alone. Everyone goes through tough times, and writers are no exception to this reality.

So, rather than expecting that you will never go through tough times and then getting upset because you do, look at like this: you will go through tough times just like everyone else and you are strong and resourceful and you can get through it.

My advice on getting through tough times may be a little different than most. See what you think.

Practice acceptance. If you are in any kind of denial, remember that acceptance comes first. This IS happening, whether you like it or not. You don’t have to be happy about it. But you have to accept it as reality. Resistance to reality, or denial, is more common than you think. Don’t beat yourself up for resisting the truth.

Rest & regroup. Once you accept what is actually going on, you might need a chance to process it. Here are some good ways to do this. Sleep more. Walk more. Take more showers or baths. Eat healthy and regularly. Just doing all of these things will make your difficult experience much more manageable.

Do nothing drastic. Maybe you are losing your best friend. Maybe you are losing a parent or grandparent. Maybe the fate of something or someone is hanging in the balance. Do not panic. This is life. Birth happens, death happens, and we are powerless to change this. The most important thing is to not panic and stay grounded. You may have others in your life who depend on your to show up and take care of things. This can actually be helpful. It can help to make a master list but then just focus on the single next most important thing you need to do. And take breaks for the things I just mentioned in between tasks.

Grieve and/or get help. Some people are better at processing emotions than others. This likely has more to do with childhood conditioning than anything else, so don’t feel bad about your emotional flexibility. If grieving comes easily to you, go ahead and open the floodgates. Grieving is a necessary and healthy part of life. If you struggle to grieve or if grieving makes you want to act out, tune out, or hurt yourself, get some support for the process. And never be ashamed of needing or asking for help, you are only human, after all.

Let loss be a process. New grief may trigger old grief. If something happens in the present and it triggers old grief, the process may be more challenging for you than most. Don’t minimize either the new or the old losses. Human beings typically experience loss as pain, sadness, and fear. None of these feelings are much fun. And loss is not nothing. Loss is real.

Turn inward & find your strength. Many folks will suggest turning outward during times of loss. And, yes, if you are not safe to be alone for any reason, do seek others who can support you and assist you. But I have always found that the fastest and most integrated way to process loss is to face it and feel it. I can’t say that I love doing this or that I can always fully embrace all of the feelings in the moment. But I also recognize that through is the only way out.

Tap into your extended or social networks. Our immediate family and close circle of friends may not always have as much support on hand as we need in the moment. This is why I suggest reaching out to wider circles for support. Try sending out an e-mail to extended family and friends letting them know that you are going through a tough time. Be sure to include only those on the list who you think will be kind and supportive. Leave off anyone who tends to be resentful or negative. Ditto steer clear of people who keep score. If you have cultivated a supportive online network reach out to those folks with an explicit request like for prayers or good wishes.

If you are going through tough times that involve pain, sadness, or fear, trust yourself. You can take it. You are flexible, resilient, and whole. And you will come out the other side of the grief tunnel stronger, wiser, more in touch with your feelings.

And then you will be better able to show up fully for your life and your writing once again.

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  • Sue LeBreton

    For me that acceptance is key. If i resist I cannot roll with what is happening in any healthy way. Thanks.

  • Jennifer Smiga

    Great advice and very timely considering it’s the one year anniversary of Sandy. Time heals and so do words.

  • christinakatz

    Thanks, Sue. 🙂

  • christinakatz

    Thanks, Jennifer. And best of luck with your post-Sandy recovery.

  • Oh Christina, As always you tap in to what I see happening in many different places. Thank you for this post and for the permission to be outward with grief and recuperating. xoxo S

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