Shortly after I agreed to write this blog post on the topic “Writing When Life Gets Crazy,” it did. The saying “It never rains but it pours” is apt for my life right now.
I received invitations to speak at 7 events taking place within 18 days. Our chronically ill youngest daughter took a turn for the worse and needed rides to multiple medical appointments. A vehicle her family and we often share was down for major repairs. And to make it “a perfect storm,” my five-month-old laptop started giving trouble and was sent away to have its hard drive replaced. I’m writing this on a loaner laptop, trying to do without email for several weeks, muddling through back-up files of speaking notes and half-written blog posts.
So how do I keep writing when life gets this crazy? First of all, I discussed this with my Boss, the One who knows the end from the beginning, and, in His wisdom allowed these things to happen. I asked Milton’s famous question about his blindness, “Doth God exact day-labour, light denied?”
The answer came from Philippians 4:13, “You, Jack, can do everything you need to in your life, not because you have a functioning computer, an extra vehicle, and plenty of time, but because I am there to strengthen you.”
One afternoon, knowing I was going to be driving about for hours on multiple errands, I put a small recorder into my shirt pocket, planning to think through the topic of this blog and dictate some notes.
The first thing I noted on my recorder was to look up a quote I had read from E.B. White about ideal conditions for writing.
Then I noted that Agatha Christie said she worked out her intricate plots not sitting at her writing desk but while washing dishes.
My mind moved to a story I was writing and I described some settings and locations on my recorder. Twenty minutes later, having finished an errand, I started describing a person I had just met who could be the base of a character for my story.
I also realized that there is a difference between a writer’s overall work and the work of writing. Sometimes, in the midst of a life that is crazy, it may not be possible to write new first draft stuff, but we can do other writerly things—marketing, for instance. In three speaking engagements, I sold 70 of my books and added many subscribers to my blog.
I find it almost impossible to write, edit, and revise without ready access to my own laptop, but I could do Internet-based research on the loaner.
And even in chaos, I could read. Not as much as Hemingway’s three hours daily in a soundproof room but at least some.
The quote from E.B. White is key in a life gone crazy, “A writer who waits for ideal conditions under which to work will die without putting a word on paper.”
Jack Popjes started writing stories for their missionary newsletters during the decades he and his wife were Bible translators in Brazil. For the past 20 years, he has blogged weekly on missions, church, Christian spirituality, and Bible translation. His current blog is INsights & OUTbursts. He has print published three books and e-published two books of story based articles—all selected from his blogs. His storytelling ability makes him a popular speaker. email@example.com