November 30, 2016

Writer's Hiatus by Susan Barclay

October 2014-December 2015 were pretty dry writing months for me. It wasn’t so much that the brain juices weren’t flowing, but that my life became busier. My mom was living with us, and my daughter’s friend, Karen, also lived with us during the summer, leaving me with little time to myself. I’m one of those writers who need to work in complete silence. My mom and Karen don’t know what silence is.

So… time goes by. Karen moves into an apartment with friends in September 2015; my mom moves back home in January 2016. I feel like a newbie writer again, or as my kids might say, a noob. How and where do I begin?
Start by doing what's necessary; then do what's possible; and suddenly you are doing the impossible. -St. Francis of Assisi
These words mean a lot to me. “Start by doing what’s necessary.” What’s necessary is for me to begin writing – something, anything. I begin by creating a new blog and posting regularly. That seems small and fairly non-threatening. I share the news with my old blog readers and my Facebook friends. That’s as much exposure as I want during this time of “sprouting new leaves again.”

Next, I "do what's possible." I pick up my novel, which if not on the computer would be gathering dust on a shelf. I go back to the beginning and start editing as a way to remind myself of the story and to do the nurturing that begins after a gestation period. No matter how many times I return to page one, I always find ways to make the work better. My brain cylinders have been firing even if my fingers have been resting.

Suddenly I am "doing the impossible." I’m writing new material – new sentences, paragraphs, chapters. I never stopped attending my writers’ groups, but now I’m participating more fully and feeling more engaged. There’s work to be done, additional changes to make, a challenge to be embraced. It’s exhilarating. Would I have been open to all of this had my earlier work not come to a halt?

I’m not sure. And so I am grateful for the respite and repose. It’s not as if nothing was happening with my writing during this period; it was all just happening behind the scenes, and I was unaware of it.

Recently I came across two very affirming thoughts I’d like to leave you with: 
The first step towards getting somewhere is to decide that you are not going to stay where you are. -J. Pierpont Morgan
You don’t want to break forever. Sometimes, as in my case, you don’t have a choice as to the length of time you take off. Other times, you do. When you do, take the proverbial bull by the horns. Decide to move forward, then act.

Remember this also:
Let me tell you the secret that has led me to my goal. My strength lies solely in my tenacity. -Louis Pasteur
It takes tenacity to be a writer. Don’t let a little thing like a hiatus deter or discourage you. Use the time to let thoughts and ideas percolate. Then return and take the world by storm.


  1. Susan, your St. Francis quote was exactly what I needed to hear this morning. Like you, life priorities have taken up my time for quite awhile, but as of today, those pieces have resolved. What to do? I wondered, and then I read your quote. So I paused, pulled out a list of prompts, and happily wrote for 10 minutes. A start!

    1. Wonderful, Bobbi! So happy to hear my post was just the motivation you needed!

  2. What Bobbi said! I found this post very inspiring and encouraging.

  3. Very encouraging! I am just starting to think about getting back into the swing of things after a time when I, too, have had to stop writing, due to the busyness of life around me. It seems so hard to step back in, but you have reminded me that I need only do a bit at a time- that helps so much! Katherine Hoffman

    1. Thanks, Katherine. Happy to be of service as you re-enter the writing world :)

  4. Well said, Susan. Thanks for your "enheartening" message of tenacity after a hiatus from writing. You are setting a good example for us.

    1. Aw, thanks, Sharon. It's always nice to receive some affirmation :)


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