Several years ago, my two-year-old daughter was diagnosed with leukemia. As part of her treatment, we spent weeks in a hospital isolation room. No visitors. No distractions. Just a little television playing Law and Order reruns on a seemingly endless loop.
To fill the long hours while she slept, I started to write a novel. My fictional world, set in the early days of the Oregon Trail, was the perfect place to escape from the pain and uncertainty we were facing.
For all of its doom and gloom, the hospital was a fantastic place to write. It was usually quiet, I wasn’t distracted by household chores, and nothing enforces “keep your bum in the chair” like being a captive inpatient.
Thanks to the wonderful staff at MSTI Pediatrics, my daughter made a full recovery. But I’d caught the writing bug. For years afterward, I lugged my laptop wherever I went. In doctors’ offices, the carpool lane, and airports, my mantra was, “If I’m waiting, I’m writing.”
No matter how bad things got, I could always shut out the world and escape into a novel.
Until this year.
Last month, my father’s cancer returned and he had to be hospitalized for a couple of relatively minor surgeries. This time, no matter how I tried, I couldn’t focus on my writing. Instead, I found myself pacing the floor, constantly calling for updates, unable to concentrate.
For the first time, I couldn’t escape into my writing world. Perhaps it was because he was in another state, I wasn’t at the hospital, and I couldn’t see him breathing in front of me. I could only sit by the phone waiting for news.
Fortunately, he’s recovering, but my faith in my ability to write through anything has not. So I’d like to ask our readers: What do you do when anxiety keeps you from writing? Do you have any “tricks” to get back in the groove?