Writing Is…For Tough Times*

These are strange times. I could probably just end that right there, and it would about sum up the last several weeks for most of us. But knowing times are strange and knowing what to do with times that are strange are very different things.

And I keep coming back to writing. Writing is For Tough Times. I know that I would be better off to say that writing can be helpful in tough times, because I’m sure we all have experiences where writing was anything but calming and cathartic, but writing at its core is a wonderful tool for helping us to negotiate difficult times.

Right now, unless you have unplugged your computer and turned off your TV and not answered your phone, you are most likely on overload. There is so much information to take in and in all honestly, most of us cannot process this fire-hose amount of highly-charged, often conflicting material in a positive way. When we are overloaded, we want to make sense of things, and we are prone to have the information that we collect circling through out brains until we can find a place to file it. We sort and dissect and compare, running the new information past our old knowledge, and we search for previous information that can give us a place to hang the new news in a way that makes sense.

But if you are like most people, that circling and sorting and making sense of too much is exhausting and stressful. As the information continues to pour in and as it becomes increasingly charged with emotions and anxiety, we begin to be frazzled.

Thoughts have a way a getting trapped in the eddies of our minds until their circling can make us emotionally dizzy, but writing is a wonderful way to gather all those thoughts up and set them down so that we can rest.  Just like talking to a good friend during a difficult time can calm you, putting pen to paper and scribbling out the thoughts in your head can provide some space too.

If you are home alone, writing can be a wonderful addition to talking with friends.

If you are in the middle of a full, crazy house, writing can be a wonderful practice that gives you space to think and process on your own.

If you are running a business right now and your employees are scattered, writing can be a great exercise for you to provide support and foster conversations during this difficult time. 

If you are stressed out with caregiving or loss or all the demands that this new experience has brought your way, writing can be a way to calm and soothe your tired spirit.

If you need writing prompts or ideas about how to write during these times, click ToughTimesWritingPrompts for a FREE downloadable sheet of ideas to get you and the people in your life writing a little more. And hopefully through words, we can sort out some of our experiences and feelings in this tough time, and we can be a little more settled in our souls.


* If you are having a difficult time and need to talk to someone, please reach out to a qualified therapist or health professional for help.


Writing Is…A Whole Lot of Getting Ready

It might be easy to think that writing is just about waking up to birds singing sweetly outside your window, grabbing a cup of organic coffee, reading the paper, and then sitting down in a pristine, perfectly decorated office and writing.  Dreamy, really.

Sometimes it can seem easier to do absolutely anything other than what you know you need to be doing.  Most of us have probably been at the “I have a project due” and “Boy, do I love cleaning toilets” corner once or twice.

Sometimes when I am putting off writing, it’s because I’m just stalling.  But I actually think that there may be some method in the madness.


We have very full lives and minds.

There is a lot going on in this modern world. I find that I am regularly juggling emails, projects, work, cleaning, business paperwork, exercise, feeding myself, making sure to check in with people, travel plans, and everything else that gets thrown in to a busy life. You have your own list, and I’m sure it’s quite full as well. All of those things hang out in our heads, reminding us to make sure we don’t miss paying bills on time, getting to doctor’s appointments, picking up kiddos from school, or meeting a friend for a much needed coffee.

But if you’ve ever tried to write or do serious creative work and thinking while all the things you need to do are swirling up in your brain, then you know that it can be very hard to even hear yourself think.

So what is a writer (or really any creative) to do?

You wouldn’t try to cook without a kitchen or the ingredients you need for a meal, and you wouldn’t train for a marathon without good shoes.

And I don’t think you should try to write without getting ready either.

You will never have everything done

and a perfect moment to sit down and write.

Just in case that’s what you are waiting for to get started writing, let me say that again…

You will never have everything done.

That’s ok.

Writing is not about having nothing else going on, but it is an endeavor worth taking seriously enough to prepare for.

What are the things on your list that are nagging at your brain that you could easily finish?

Could you get those done in predictable set amount of time and then have time to write?

If so, get the nagging things off your plate first.

What other steps could you take to create a calm thinking space?

For me, I have a tendency to pile up documents on my desktop until they are six deep, messy, and completely impossible to see and use. There is never a deadline for cleaning these up, but at some point, the mess gets so bad that it begins to bug me, and I want it clean.

If that desktop is bothering me to the point that I am thinking about it, then it might be worth taking some time to pick it up.

This is not time taken away from writing.

This is time spent creating a space and life to be a writer.


What are the things that you can actively and intentionally shelve?

Like I said before, you will always have things to do, but some are nagging and disruptive and others are all in a day’s work.

  • Make a list of the swirling to-dos in your head.
  • Read over them and come to peace with knowing that you have a list and you can reference it instead of keeping it all in your head.
  • Decide to let the list hold the busy space for you while you write.

This requires intention, and along those lines, perhaps it is helpful to be realistic and realize that you cannot pop a cone of silence over your head and your brain. New things may come to mind as you write, but keep your list handy and jot the things down, knowing that the list is there for you.

There is no doubt that physical space is another important part of getting ready to write which I will address later, but creating open mental spaces to think expansive, uncluttered thoughts is a good first step.

Now…off to clean my desktop.



Project WritingIs…Grounding

Life is a little crazier than it’s normal brand of crazy this week, and this morning I got that itchy need-to-write feeling creep up in my chest which made me remember my #WRITINGIS project that, as promised, I have left hanging in the wind, forgotten in only one short week. But it’s nice to have it out there to come back to, so here I am with my ruminations on the page and my desire to write defining my morning while I let some tasks go unfinished for a little while longer.

And why? Why do I need to hastily untangle my ear buds to shove them in my ears and get typing? Why do I need to write right now? Why am I ignoring my phone and my email? And anyone trying to talk to me?

Because WRITING IS grounding.

In this moment, I need to remember who I am and what I am doing. I need to feel the careful pressure of the keys beneath my fingers while I breathe in deeply and remind myself that life swirls all around us and has a way of getting piled up and messy and as unmanageable as a toddlers curls are apt to be, and I need time to sit with it.

Sometimes in the crazy-busy, breathing is a healthy act of resistance, and writing reminds me to breathe.

It makes me stop.

It creates space.

You can only type so fast. You can only think so fast.

And when you write, you have to write something.

For me that something is sometimes

A word-laced root from my heart to the ground beneath my feet.

I watch the words emerge on the page, my breath fueling their creation, my mind settling into the rhythm of creating, my body feeling itself in this moment.

All the distractions and requests and lists pinging into my tired body are held at bay in this brief moment that I have carved out with the practice of putting words on the page.

It is a tiny reprieve, but it is a necessary one that reminds me about the rhythm of life and the need to be intentional about creating space and time and a connection to who I am and to what matters.

Writing does that for me. It lets me own my moment. It lets me use words to remember to feel my feet on the earth underneath me and to breath because #WRITINGIS so much, but for today WRITING IS grounding.


What is writing for you today?  Do you find writing to be grounding?  Follow along and let me know here and on instagram and twitter @bawriting with #writingis.