Monday, July 9, 2018

When an Incident Pauses Your Writing

By Peter Leavell @peterleavell

I’m typing this blog with one hand. Because of an incident.

The incident involved a 41-year-old active male, a city-league softball game, a pop fly to left field, a mitt on a left hand, a fence to mark the boundaries of a homerun, a leftfielder with a tendency to forget fence locations, and a glove bouncing off the hand. The story also includes a pinky, a rush to the emergency room, a specialist, surgery, and finally, a writer typing with one working hand.

For least five weeks, I’m short a digit, and a cast that binds my fingers closer than my family.

I’ve had to let my fiction slide and the ghostwriting projects pass to others. Not only is it financially trying, I can’t express myself through my work quite as easily as I used to. I’ve had to adjust.

Here’s a few tips to overcome incidents when they happen.

Eat chocolate on the first day. Life changes mean emotional frustration. Take time to grieve your new reality.

Sort advice. I received two bits of advice: If you were a stronger Christian, you wouldn’t be upset. And the second, read Psalms and you’ll see King David’s pattern—Anger, then brokenness, then reliance on God, then restoration as the new normal begins. I prefer the grieving process of the second. So, I took some time to grieve, then restored my strength by working on self-care. That involved chocolate and contemplation.

Perspective, my friend. I’ve a cousin who has no arms and she’s raising a family. I’ve a younger brother who died of cancer. Not to belittle my fractured finger, but my cousin would probably love to have a hand that feels pain. This helps me from making the incident more than it is. There's hope because I’m still breathing.

Gather strengths if this is long term. Take stock of your strengths still left to you. Enhance them. 
Peter's pain in the hand.

Make a way, if all possible. Text to speak is one option I have. If I want to write badly enough, I will make a way. My wife has disabling fibromyalgia. She's found ways to return to college and to start a teaching career. She's done this by thinking outside the box and making a way that fits her life. You can, too.

Writing isn’t the sole activity to writing career. Reading is vital. Research is key. Marketing is elemental. Do the things you can that support your writing until you can write again.

Plan for your big return. I’ve thought through how I structure my days, and when I'm better, will start a new plan. I needed the time to think. And work on my planner. I'm now a professional bullet journaler.

Not all is lost when you have an incident and you have to set your goals aside for a time. You’ll be restored, but until then, remember, you have hope. You're valuable and loved, and you're more than the sum of your injuries and pains. Do what you can, and you'll be all right.

Peter Leavell, a 2007 graduate of Boise State University with a degree in history and currently enrolled in the University's English Lit Graduate program, was the 2011 winner of Christian Writers Guild's Operation First Novel contest, and 2013 Christian Retailing's Best award for First-Time Author. A novelist, blogger, teacher, ghostwriter, jogger, biker, husband and father, Peter and his family live in Boise, Idaho. Learn more about Peter's books, research, and family adventures at


  1. Thanks for this encouraging post, Peter. I've been watching your broken finger story and I have to say your sense of humor and plan of attack are inspiring. These tips are helpful for any number of situations, because we'll all face setbacks at times. Carry on and heal soon!

  2. Oh, Peter! So sorry about the accident! I'm praying you heal quickly. And your advice is excellent -- especially the part that writing isn't the sole activity of a writing career.

  3. I can imagine the frustration, Peter. Ugh! What's a writer to do without the use of his fingers? But, you've come to this point with a great attitude, and I agree - do what you can. There are still ways to be productive! And before you know it, you'll be typing away like it never happened. ;-)

  4. Thanks, Dawn. It took me a month to get my voice back after the conference, which was another setback. Crazy, huh?

  5. Peter, so sorry about the finger! I can't imagine trying to do everything one handed. I love the fact that guys want chocolate too! But your comment about your cousin hit home. There are so many people who would be thrilled to have the things I consider hardships. Definitely made me stop and take stock.

    1. Going to get chocolate now, Terri! Thanks for your comment.

  6. well, i'm just now seeing this post though i've known about your poor pinky for a while - i'm recovering from surgery as well, and though not my hand or hands (knee replacement) i'm down for the summer. you make some wonderful points and i admire your attitude. now i think i need some chocolate!!
    cheers to a speedy recovery and lots of new words!!


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