Tuesday, June 27, 2017

When Your Heart’s Not In It by Deb Kastner

For me, and I expect for most authors, writing is a great joy—and sometimes utter misery. I can’t not write. Sometimes the words gloriously fly from my fingers. Scenes come to me so fast and hard it’s all I can do to record them on paper (or my laptop, depending on the day.) Other days, not so much. I call it writing in blood. Every word is painful, and, at the moment, at least, feels like utter crap. Sometimes I go back the next day and discover my words weren’t quite as bad as they’d felt when I was writing them. Other times? Yeah. Utter crap. Thankfully, even crap can be edited—or deleted, as the case may be.
Deb Kastner

Numerous books have been written and courses made about how to change your habits to be a more productive writer and how to use your time most efficiently. I often listen to these books and talks while exercising and am always looking for new ways to do better.

But sometimes it’s not about working harder or better. Sometimes it’s just about surviving. When life gets the best of you, writing is no longer at the top of your list. It may not be on your list at all. 

This year has been an especially difficult one for our family. Last September, my husband Joe suffered a double stroke. He won’t ever recover from that. He now tires easily and walks with a limp, not to mention the painful nerve problems. We’ve learned that there is no such thing as normal, not even a new normal. Life literally changes in an instant and continues to change. Then, when we finally started to settle down, our granddaughter started showing signs of emotional trauma from events that had occurred earlier in her life. Again, life just seems to stop while we deal with the immediate crisis and try to figure out how to move on from there.

Looking back on this year, I’ve learned a few things to do when life throws a wrench at you.

  1. Duck and cover. If you need to take time off of your writing, do it. Your emotional well is empty. You are needed elsewhere. Take whatever time you need. Your writing will be there when you return.
  2. Be kind to yourself. This isn’t the time to beat yourself up because your daily word-count is suffering. Take time to unwind and rewind. In the long run, you’ll recover faster and get back to your story.
  3. Ask for help. When I was in the hospital with Joe, people from my family and church would call and ask if they could help. My tendency was to thank them and say no. It wasn’t until my mother was in the hospital for a back surgery that I realized people are asking because they want—sometimes need—to do something. Let them offer a listening ear or a shoulder to cry on. They may want to cook you a meal or sit with your loved one so you can get a shower and a couple of hours of sleep.
  4. Keep your agent and editor up-to-date. If you’ve got something major going on that might affect your output, they will want to be in the loop. If you need to get an extension, ask for it now. Don’t wait until the day before the book is due. I write full time, so I was concerned about the time I had to take off to be with Joe in the hospital. But then I realized that no matter what kind of work I did, I would have taken off to be there with him.
  5. Gently re-enter the race. Reread your synopsis or outline and what you’ve written to date to remind yourself where you are and where your story is going. As your crisis settles, try giving yourself small writing sprints to get back into your writing project. Get your feet wet again, and pretty soon you’ll be swimming as well as ever.
I hope this year will be full of blessings and finished writing projects for you, but if a crisis comes your way, give yourself a pass. Writing takes an emotional effort. You may not have anything left to give. And that’s okay!

What do you do when life gets you down and writing becomes impossible? I’d love to hear your comments and suggestions below.

About the Author
~~Love Courageously~~

Publisher's Weekly Bestselling, award-winning author of 30 novels, Deb Kastner enjoys writing contemporary inspirational western stories set in small communities. She feels especially blessed to be able to include faith as a natural and genuine part of her characters' lives. 

Deb lives in beautiful Colorado with her husband and a pack of miscreant mutts. She is blessed with three adult daughters and two grandchildren. Her favorite hobby is spoiling her grandchildren, but she also enjoys reading, watching movies, listening to music (The Texas Tenors are her fav), singing in the church choir, and exploring the Rocky Mountains on horseback.

The Rancher's New Family 

Rachel Perez needs a handyman to spruce up her in-home day care. So when she "wins" ex-soldier Seth Howell in a bachelor auction, she's glad he can swing a hammer. But when freewheeling Seth suddenly inherits a two-year-old and a sprawling ranch, he's got to grow up fast. Seth admires Rachel's kindness and easy way with kids, so he seeks her help in finding his footing as a father. And single mom Rachel sees how determined Seth is to do right by little Caden. Between his toddler and her teenager, they've got plenty of responsibilities. Finding time for love seems out of the question—but soon they're forging a new family…together.


  1. First, Deb, I'm so sorry to hear about what you and your husband have been through the past year. You advice is very sound and also comforting to me because I've had one challenge after another since last fall and have been beating myself up because my book's not finished yet. I'm unpubbed so have no agent or editor to deal with but I set strong goals for myself and find it hard when I can't meet them. Then I'm worrying about what will happen when I do get published and have a health or family crisis. For me, the little victories are the best ones. Thank you for sharing your experience and for your encouraging words!

    1. Hi Laurie! The little victories are indeed the best ones, and every one of them count. I suspect most authors tend to be too hard on themselves because we have to be independently motivated in order to get the book done. Blessings on your writing!

  2. What a wonderful, heartfelt post. Hugs and prayers for your hubby and granddaughter and peace and strength for you, too. I have totally gone into your Point Number One. There's lots of family stuff that needs me and the word-well has dried up. Probably won't be forever, but right now, the release from deadlines, very-uncaring editors, and the nonsense of promo is absolute freedom. Best wishes, love the premise of your story cuz always love me a cowboy! xo

    1. Hi Tanya. I'm sorry to hear that your editors didn't understand your dilemma. Family comes first. I know exactly how you feel when your emotional well is empty and the words aren't there. Saying a prayer for you. Hang in there and don't beat yourself up about it.

  3. Deb, I loved your post but am so sorry this has been such a tough time for you. I lost my day job and I am my sole support. So I must write and edit to hang on to my home and support myself, whether I feel like it or not. Still, I'm trying to find ways to be kinder to myself. I hope you can do this too, and I pray things improve for you. Blessings.


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