It may be hard for some authors to continue developing and writing new work, especially when it’s not yet a full time job.
The phrase that always coins the persistent stop and go from my own projects is “Life gets in the way.” That is but the simple truth. Life for me means marriage, a good paying business which takes up much of my time seven months out of the year and of course my three children. There are always honey-do’s, daddy-won’t-you-please’s and sales calls to be completed with the utmost importance when they come up. So if I am neck deep in the middle of a scene or typing up a draft of my latest work, it doesn’t matter. Life and my responsibility in it takes precedence until I can come back to my creative time.
However, what I’ve managed to learn is my life may get in the way, but it only now fuels the material from which I draw for characters, dialogue, plot points, etc.
My most recent example is my project Dadly Intentions, which I first started developing and inking June of last year. I found myself very inspired at that time to write my first musical, and of course I needed a story idea. This also came shortly after my father told me he had cancer and was terminal with three to six months to live (he made it to eight). At the same time, my boy/girl twins just exited the terrible three’s in fine fashion and my six year old just completed Kindergarten and going on her sophomore year of college given how sharp she was. And lastly, I am always trying to not let life get in the way of being a good husband and showing my appreciation for my wife.
What’s more, I was in the upslope of my prime season of my “paying gig” so finding time to pen a new play, a musical no less, didn’t seem possible. However, I managed to have my first draft finished with all lyrics within four months including my usual weeks of development and planning.
The reason was my story idea ended up being about a struggling screenwriter/producer who becomes a new father to boy/girl twins about the same time he learns his father is dying. So my musical is basically about a man who goes on a journey to learn to be a good husband, father and honorable son while not giving up on his own dreams. Sounds familiar, right? The stars aligned between my creative inspiration and my life inspiration and because of that I had so much material with which to express myself.
And to be honest, writing that play serves as a sort of therapeutic outlet during such an intense time. In turn, I whole heartedly feel Dadly Intentions is my most personal creative work since my stage play Mourning News.
I’ve read several times over Woody Allen tends to take bits of his personal life and uses them as the muse of his writing. Not that I would be so presumptive to compare my quality of writing to that of Woody Allen, but I will say the older I get and the more “life” I end up having, the more I can start to relate to how Allen uses life’s natural plot points as his creative ones. It really does help far more creative work which feels human and relatable if you can take life getting in way and using it to fuel your writing, at least for me it does.
By the way, if Allen’s works are always inspired by his personal life, than given certain consistencies in his material, his life must involve psychotherapists, hookers and jazz music almost every day. Just an observation.
Anyways, next time your trying to crank out a written work and life suddenly gives you a curve ball, think of your situation and how it can help your writing instead of prevent you from doing it.