When Life Disturbs the Writerly Groove

I’m a creature of habit, a lover of consistency, an admirer of all things routine. Which is why this past week has been difficult for me.

Dixie, my pit bull mix, had an unexpected yet inevitable and necessary knee surgery last Friday. She had the same painful procedure done three years ago on the left knee, and I was told she’d likely need the right knee done eventually. Though I knew we’d go through this again, it isn’t any less exhausting.

Aside from work, all my time has been devoted to caring for Dixie and stressing over the pain she’s experiencing. I haven’t been sleeping well and I feel the constant, nagging pain of a displaced vertebra from snoozing on the floor and couch to be near her.

So my writing routine—like my running, walking, and reading routine—has been interrupted. I’m not complaining; Dixie is one of the most important parts of my life. She’s family. She’s blood. I’d do anything for her.

But I’m dealing with a noticeable and frustrating change in my writing habits. I tried to draft a new story Monday night, but faced with using the dregs of my creative energy or watching Wicked Tuna (yes, I love that show), I chose to mindlessly binge watch.

I stewed over that decision the next day.

Which got me thinking that I should not beat myself up over this. I put much of my spare time into my writing. I know I’m hopelessly devoted to my passion. But life happens, which means routines need to temporarily give.

So for those of you who have experienced unwanted lapses in your writing (or other passions), I offer you the pep talks I’ve been giving myself:

  1. You’re human. Things happen.
  2. Your family/people/pets need you. They’re more important than anything.
  3. Think of this as a mini vacation to collect new ideas and dream up new stories.
  4. There’s no shame in powering down for a bit to reboot.
  5. Channel this energy into your work when you resume.
  6. Stressing over it will only make you feel worse.
  7. You’ll be back in the groove sooner than you think.
  8. Nothing relieves stress more than reading a good book before bed, even if only for 10 minutes.
  9. The fact that you’re stressing this much means that you love it more than you thought.
  10. Chocolate helps.
  11. So does wine.
  12. Or both.
  13. You are not failing.

Pause is healthy, normal, inevitable, unavoidable. It is not a reflection of how badly you want to achieve your dreams.

I know I’ll be back to (almost) full groove in a week or two, when Dixie is through the most difficult part of her eight-week recovery. And I’ll groove harder and more energetically than ever.

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