Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Writing Despite Distractions by Candy Arrington

Candy Arrington
During the last years of my mother's life, I served as her caregiver. Ironically, I was writing a book on caring for aging parents at the time. While the responsibilities of caregiving often caused distractions that compromised writing time, in some ways, the difficult circumstances taught me to snatch brief available writing moments.

Most of us find it difficult to compartmentalize emotional upheaval. It spills over into every aspect of life. And physical exhaustion, which is constant for most caregivers or the chronically ill, robs mental processes. So how can you continue to write when distracted by urgent, on-going, or energy-draining life events?

Inventory writing accomplishments—Sometimes we lose track of what we've accomplished in the face of what feels like a total productivity standstill. Reviewing publishing credits reminds us God is our source of inspiration, encourages dependence on him, and sparks new ideas. If you wrote this much, this well, before now, you'll be able to do it again.

Chronicle snippets—Get in the habit of carrying a small notebook you can easily access. Sometimes our minds work on writing pursuits even though we're involved in other activities, including while asleep. When ideas, book or article titles, themes, sentences, or phrases pop into your mind, write them in your notebook. Don't try to make sense of them at the time. Just get them on paper. If you don't have the notebook with you, compose a text message to yourself and save it, or send a brief email from your phone. 

Once, while my mother was in the hospital, I wrote most of a chapter and didn't remember until I opened the document weeks later. I almost cried because the deadline was looming and I thought I hadn't started that chapter yet. When I saw it was nearly finished, I was overwhelmed by the knowledge that God was writing through me even though my mind was elsewhere.

Set small, realistic goals—Often, our biggest writing challenge is a blank computer screen. Typing even a few sentences primes the pump. Decide to make an outline, write two paragraphs, or create five bullet points. You'll be surprised how often you keep going beyond the small goal you set for yourself. Once you meet, or exceed, your goal, the sense of accomplishment you feel encourages you to move forward.

Realize difficulties are the catalyst for heart-felt writing—Hardships add new dimensions to writing. Although not perceived while in the midst of the situation, later concepts and lessons crystallize. Then writing comes from a deeper place. Instead of cursing your circumstances, mine them for writing gems. But make sure your writing edifies readers rather than serving as a forum for whining.

Side-step discouragement—Discouragement is one of Satan's most effective weapons, but rest assured, greater seasons of writing productivity lie ahead. Don't succumb to the thought that you're a writing has-been. Praise God for the gift of words and ask him to continue to use you and your writing to encourage others.

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Chronicle snippets: get in the habit of carrying a small notebook you can easily access. Click to Tweet
Praise God for the gift of words and ask him to continue to use you. Click to Tweet
Five easy ways to keep writing in spite of distractions. Click to Tweet
About the Author
When Your Aging Parent Needs Care
by Candy Arrington & Kim Atchley
About Candy Arrington
Candy Arrington's writing provides Biblical insight and practical support, often on tough topics. Her publishing credits include The Lookout, Encounter, Focus on the Family, Clubhouse, The Upper Room, The Writer, and Writer's Digest. She is coauthor of Aftershock: Help, Hope, and Healing in the Wake of Suicide (B & H Publishing Group) and When Your Aging Parent Needs Care: Practical Help for This Season of Life (Harvest House Publishers). Candy and her husband, Jim, live in Spartanburg, South Carolina, where she writes about the lessons God is teaching her. www.CandyArrington.com

When Your Aging Parent Needs Care
In nearly a quarter of households in the US, someone is caring for an aging parent. What begins as a way to honor those they love becomes, for many, a confusing and stressful time. This resource of hope provides caregivers with the support and direction they need to be spiritually, physically, and emotionally prepared for situations they face day-to-day. Authors Candy Arrington and Kim Atchley draw from their personal experiences to speak with compassion and guidance and support those who face the challenges of caring for a parent.


  1. Thank you so much for writing this, Candy! My mother has enjoyed good health most of her life, but issues are starting to show up now that she's in her 80's. Love your suggestion to set small goals and chronicle ideas in a notebook.

    This spoke to my heart this morning.

  2. Thank you, Angie. Blessings to you as you navigate the years ahead with your mom. Cherish her and enjoy your time together.

  3. Candy, I can't even imagine what you must have went through, how physically and mentally exhausted you must have been trying to keep up with your mother's needs while writing a book! But isn't it awesome how God provides, even during our darkest days? Thanks for sharing your story and these great tips. Wishing you a joyous, Son-kissed holiday season!

  4. Hi Candy, my mom went into hospice recently (93 and just weak and tired) but I'm more than that dealing with ugly relatives. But as you say, praise God and ask Him to use us. The trust factor is hard for me. Your post hit home today, thanks. And blessed Thanksgiving to you and yours

    1. Oh, Tanya! I'm so sorry you're dealing with this. It must be so difficult to see your mom like that. And the added stress of strained relationships doesn't help either. Trust, once broken, is hard to regain. I know what you mean.

      Candy's post helped me as well. I'll be praying for you and I hope you have a blessed Thanksgiving, too.

  5. Tanya, we all struggle with trust. But God is faithful. Things may not happen in a manner that seems reasonable to us, but God's timing is always perfect. I'm thankful he is orchestrating the details of my life. It removes a lot of pressure. Seek him and listen and he will guide. God bless.

  6. Thanks, Angie. You're a wonderful friend. Couldn't make it without you, honest.

    Candy, I know God's timing is always perfect. It's just...the waiting, grrrrr. Thanks again for another reminder, and to you both, for the prayers and encouragement. xo

  7. I love the idea of carrying a small notebook for those really hectic times. I need to be better at doing that. :)

  8. I have chronic illness that just wipes me out most days. This post couldn't have come at a better time--I have a tendency to beat myself up over not getting as much as I think I should have.
    I'm in the process of expanding my office(writing) space to include art space as well. I would have internal arguments with myself--do art, write, art, write....and end up doing nothing.
    Thanks for the lift!

    1. Cyn,

      You're not alone. I have a chronic illness and I know many other writers who have health issues. It is very hard to write when you're sick. This post really helped me, too.

      Good for you for pursuing your creative side in spite of being wiped out. Just do what you can and don't worry about the rest. . Keep on trying and hang in there.


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