I’ve had some really productive days in the last six weeks, despite not typing a single word of my story for the past two.

Life stuff happens, you know? Good or bad (in this case, very, very good), every now and again, something bubbles up that just can’t be pushed aside. Life is a shifting sea. Sometimes you find yourself in calm, peaceful waters; sometimes you’re twisting under gargantuan waves and clinging to the oars as tightly as you can.

So despite my best intentions, turbulent tides have forced my attentions away from my novel for two weeks. Yes, I feel denied. Yes, I feel guilty. But I don’t feel the least bit lazy since I’ve hardly had a moment’s rest in ten days and I’ve got plenty to show for my time. But of course, none of it gets me closer to finishing a novel. Which brings me to my point.

In past years, I would have felt bad putting it off, thinking I couldn’t do it. But because the preceding four writing days had been so productive, I’m not that down on myself.

Hoping not to jinx it, the truth is I’ve been quite successful lately at making the most use of the time that I do spend working on my story. Knowing that life can, and will, get in the way, that sometimes I will not be able to spend as much time as I hoped writing, the secret is not to beat myself up over it. Because when we do sit down to pound the keys, it’s just not going to help if we’re black and blue with self-defeat and frustration.

You’ve got to make the most of the time you have. So when I get there, when I’ve cleared out the obstacles, reined in the perceived responsibilities, drowned out the distractions, and I sit down to actually work, I clear my head deliberately, look at where I left off, step into the zone, and start cranking. It wasn’t easy at first, but after three weeks, it started to almost feel like ability, even skill. Inch by inch, yard by yard, I can tell I’m getting better at it.

It feels good honing myself, finding that state of calm, creative alertness. Hopefully, it will still be there next Friday.

Write on.