Having just slogged through a huge medical rough patch, it occurs to me that rough patches are nothing new in my life, from dealing with a special needs child to writing a book that wanted to break my brain, and those skills are the same, no matter what your rough patch may be.
So how do you get through a rough patch in your project, your personal life, or your career?
First, take it one day at a time. Don’t look too far ahead. Take it one hour, one minute at a time if you have to. Do the thing immediately in front of you that needs doing. Then do the next thing. Keep moving forward.
Second, remember that rough patches end. However difficult it might be at the moment, it’s just that moment. It’s not the rest of your life.
Third, practice kindness. If you’re not kind to yourself, everything is harder. How to be kind to yourself? This ranges from taking a walk, eating right, getting enough sleep, to going to a movie or an art gallery you really want to see to simply being kind in thought. “I’m actually a good writer. I’ve solved problems like this before. I’ve finished every other book, I can finish this one, too.” You can recognize your own short-comings and mistakes without turning it into a catastrophe or turning yourself into a hopeless mess. Being kind to yourself and believing in your abilities makes it a lot easier to weather difficult stretches.
Fourth, remember that from struggle comes growth. Every horrible writing problem I’ve wrestled with has made me a better writer. Dealing with a special needs kid has made me a far better parent and more empathic human being. I’m not a fan of Nietzche, but it is true that working through problems builds problem-solving skills and experience and wisdom and in the end, confidence.
Rough patches are part of life, unfortunately. In careers, in personal lives, in health, in projects, things go right and sometimes they go badly wrong, and while we can’t choose or control how or when these wrong things will hit, we can control how we cope with them. One minute at a time if that’s all we can manage.
1. Study. No, really. Kids who don’t keep up their studies over the summer fall behind. We actually did our end of school year wrap-up with a discussion of what skills needed practice over the summer. Now’s a good time to think about it and set up a schedule.
2. Trips to local museums, galleries, planetariums, observatories, science centers, farms, whatever your community offers. It’s easy to make a list of nearby places your kids want to explore and plan a series of outings over the summer. Also check out community classes and day camps. There are lots of opportunities and many of them don’t cost much.
3. Projects at home. Before school ended, we had already picked up a book on origami animals and a bracelet-making kit. Next on our list, embroidery hoops and floss, since the kids loved learning how to embroider at the art festival earlier this spring. You can find all kinds of things for kids in craft stores, fabric stores, art supply stores, and bookstores. Stock up now and be ready to whip one out when the initial glee of freedom ends with a plaintive “I’m bored!” Also, school age children are old enough to begin learning to cook.
4. Summer reading at your local library.
5. Start a garden project, any scale, from a pot of herbs on the patio to a square-foot-garden. Kids love to dig in dirt and see the whole process go from seed to food.
1. Walk on the Wild Side’s May extravaganza continues with Alison Kent’s At His Mercy!
2. I’m off bedrest. Hurrah. (Further testing actually turned up some good news for a change.)
3. I still managed to read most of The Art of War for Writers and all of Dreamveil in between bouts of tests and fretting, which made the time pass a lot more happily.
4. I’ve started getting “where is the next book” emails in foreign languages now. This combined with the above test results is clearly a sign that I should be writing faster. Especially if that guy who said the world was ending over the weekend turns out to be right about October. (Who wants to go with unfinished books? Untidy!)
5. I finally updated the “new releases” sidebar and added a book page for the Mammoth Book of Hot Romance.
I did a lot of things in the 2nd trimester of pregnancy to get ready for the 3rd and recovery after. I knew there was a possibility I wouldn’t be up to dealing with those things if I left them too late. So along with the typical items like filling the freezer, getting the house ready, stocking baby items and having everything ready to use, I started collecting Rainy Day Reads. Books I knew I could count on to entertain and distract me when the day came that I really needed them, and since I’m on bed rest, that day is here.
I have books by Maya Banks and Larissa Ione and Stephanie Tyler. Ava Gray and Samantha Hunter and Linda Howard. Marjorie Liu and Lynn Viehl and Patricia Briggs (yes, I actually have a few I managed to not read instantly). Jennie Lucas and Maisey Yates are ready to sweep me off on international angst-ridden Presents journeys. Romance in all flavors and settings are my Rainy Day Reads. There’s no other genre I can count on to make me feel better.
And that’s one of the reasons why I keep writing it myself.