When Life Gets in the Way: Why You Should Keep Writing…Even When You’re Not Sure You Want To

Posted on May 20, 2013


I remember writing a research paper about J.R.R. Tolkien in high school, mostly because I was fascinated with his work and wanted to learn more about him. One thing that stuck out to me was the struggles he went through while writing his now-famous trilogy, The Lord of the Rings. For one, he wrote the books during a dark period of worldwide and personal tragedy: the World Wars. He lost friends, and he saw the world essentially begin to tear itself apart. During this painful time, his progress on his books didn’t just slow; it stopped.

Maybe this fact stayed with me because I knew every writer, including myself, could relate to this at different points. Something awful happens—in the world, in our lives—and we shut down. Life is too much, and writing is more Keep-Writingwork than we are capable of tackling. When your thoughts and emotions are clouded over and you are wholly consumed in your grief, pain, or numbness, how can you concentrate and channel your thoughts into comprehensible writing? I think about recent events that have shocked and horrified Americans: the Sandy Hook shooting, the Boston bombings. Then I look at this blinking cursor on my screen and wonder: What does it matter? So what if I have something to say?

But I stop and think about the impact a fantasy trilogy has had on a world of adoring fans. Isn’t it crazy how even fantasy can echo deep truths so clearly? Isn’t Tolkien’s story about un-extraordinary people—ones who refuse to give up, who conquer the odds, and who believe in good and cling to it—the kind of story readers hold on to? Isn’t it the inspirational aspects of his books that make them worth reading even when life is dark? I fully believe the great losses he witnessed and experienced enabled Tolkien to author a trilogy that touches so many people’s hearts in different ways. Maybe that’s why Edward George Bulwer-Lytton said, “The pen is mightier than the sword”…because when Tolkien started writing again anyway, his words of hope ended up living to this very day. I think about the times when we’re all tempted to give up. To not just slow our writing, but stop it altogether. Because we hurt. Because we can’t even focus anymore. Because we don’t think it matters.

But I remember times when I have hurt and how just putting pen to paper or beginning to attack the keyboard has brought relief. It’s in moments of hurt that we speak from the heart like we never have before. We think about what really matters, and that’s what we write about. We look at tragedy and we desperately seek out hope, so we search for it in our lives and map out our course in our words, leaving a trail for others to follow until we reach that “light at the end of the tunnel” together. It’s in moments of raw emotion that we evaluate ourselves and the world around us from the perspective of what truly matters and what will last. We write to share a deeper message to those around us—one that will encourage, enlighten, and strengthen. We seek truth. We seek hope. That’s when we write something worth sharing. That’s when we can find a measure of healing in the words we write…and our readers can, too.

Rachel Schade, Editor and Writer, Asta Publications


Asta Publications has a long history of helping writers tell their stories and get published. Since 2004, Asta Publications has helped hundreds of authors bring their book concepts to life and we are ready to help you too! Our dedication to our authors is unmatched. We deliver first-class products and services that are accurate, high quality, and exceed our authors’ expectations.

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