From Sarah, With Joy

*Poet * Author * Wanderluster*

Monday, February 14, 2011

Writing Through Pain, Discomfort and Disruption

Though I hope you all are having a fantastic Valentine's day today, that is not what I want to write about, first because I have nothing to say about it, second, there is something I would rather talk about. Everybody has pain, discomfort and disruption in their life; surgery, broken bones, sickness, insomnia, getting stuck at airports, a bunch of other things. So the question is, when that is happening, how do you write through it?

First off, why should we even care about writing through it? I mean, we all deserve breaks sometimes, don't we? With all the changes in the publishing industry going on, the answer is that the most commercially successful writers are most likely going to be the quick and prolific ones. From the research I've done, the publishing path that makes sense to me is to do what I can with Big Publishing, give them my best work, and then use Print-on-Demand and eBooks for the rest, and that means I'm going to need to have a good literary output. We'll see how that works, but basically, in todays world its important to write lots and write fast. (This is coming from a commercial perspective. Every writer is different, and each has to balance this commercial side with the artistic side. But the days of the writer being taken care of are gone.)

The only answer I can really think of for this dilemma is to just write. Just push through, just do it. You can always come back with a fat red pen if/when you need to. Just do what you can. Perhaps writing in spurts can help. Music, movies and other books can help calm you down. Have you had these experiences before? What helps you write through pain, discomfort and disruption?

Ok, so here's the real reason I wanted to write about this today: tomorrow I'm getting reconstructive jaw surgery. I'll be in the hospital for a few days and be on a liquid diet for six weeks. Honestly, there are others (my mother) much more worried then I am, but its still going to be painful and uncomfortable. I would love your ideas about how to get writing done during situations like this. And if you don't hear from me in the next couple days or hear something kind of disjointed and drugged up, you'll know why. I'm not planning on going out of commission, but thats exactly why I'm writing about it--I need your help to keep things going.

There are a few other things you could do for me, if its not too presumptuous to ask.

First, your prayers, if you are so inclined, would be appreciated. Any and all prayers.

Second, tell a friend about this blog. I've been having much more success with it then I've ever had, and for that I thank you. I'd like to keep that up and keep the readership growing. If you know anyone who may find it helpful or at least entertaining, maybe let them know about it.

Third, I'm going to be unable to do much but lay around for the next little while, so I would love some movie recommendations. If you would put a list of your favorites in the comments, that would be awesome. For a few weeks my life is going to not be much besides reading, writing and movies. Ok, so its mostly like that anyway, but still...

Anyway, thank you so much for all your help and support. I'm pretty excited to get this over with and move on to the next adventure, but I hope to use the next few weeks to really crack down on my book. We'll see how everything goes.

Sarah Allen


  1. First, sorry to hear about the surgery. You will be in my prayers. Hoping you have a speedy recovery. Second, things that help me keep writing... About a year ago I figured out that music really inspires me, and when I started my second novel I decided to put together a playlist of songs that really got me in the mind-set of what I was working on. It worked great. Also, I do a lot of thinking about what I'm going to write. I try and figure out the characters and scenes before I ever put pen to paper (fingers to keyboard).

    I agree with you that writing is something that you just have to do. My theory is that there are two types of people in the world: 1. Those who sit around waiting for things to happen 2. Those who go out and make things happen. As writers, we really need to be number 2.

    Anyway- movies. Yes... I have tons of favorites. I'll try and keep it short. (lol)

    1. Up (Cartoon, but an amazing movie)
    2. Finding Neverland (kind of old, but worth the watch)
    3. Alice and Wonderland (new one, love it)
    4. Inception (complicated but great imagination)

    Hope that helps. Take care. :)

  2. Hi Sarah - Oh my! No fun going through surgery like that. I guess my recommention is to journal while you're recovering. That's what I did when I had surgery last year (I had a cyst rupture on my ovary, so it was emergency surgery and thus, I had no time to prepare myself!). Also, sleep when you feel like sleeping. That will speed the recovery process. Don't force yourself to write when you really, really don't feel like it. But when you DO feel like it, go for it!

    List of movies...(I tend to like the classics, so I'll throw some of those in there, too):
    1) RED with Bruce Willis and Helen Mirren. Oh my goodness. LOVE it.
    2) Secretariat (good, clean, family movie)
    3) Laura (from the 1940s - great film noir!)
    4) State Fair (with Dana Andrews and Jeanne Crain. No matter what kind of mood I'm in, this never fails to make me feel good about life).
    5) Have to second "Up" - very good.

    Here's hoping everything goes well tomorrow!

  3. Watch "Seabiscuit", the one with Tobey Maguire. Amazing film, clean, and full of hope without being smarmy. They took a story about a horse and made it into the story of the human condition. I love it, and can't get through it without crying with happiness.

  4. Hope it goes well! My advice is to get some TV series and power through them (Buffy and the Gilmore Girls always make me smile) or do some nice marathons (Harry Potter/Star Wars/Lord of the Rings...). Feel better soon!

  5. good luck Sarah! Watch Paper Moon. I love that movie.

  6. 1- I am Sam
    2- Secondhand Lions
    3- The Bourne movies
    4- Ocenas 11,12,13
    5- Emma
    6- Despicable Me
    7- Finding Nemo

    You're in my prayers for sure!

  7. I know that when I am going through "stuff," I feel better getting at least a few lines onto the page. Sorry you have a surgery to look forward to - will pray for you.

    My go-to movie is When Harry Met Sally.

    If you want to cry there's:
    Ps I Love You
    I am Sam
    Terms of Endearment
    Steel Magnolias

    If you want to laugh:
    Fun with Dick and Jane (especially funny if you've ever been broke)
    The Proposal

    If you like old movies:
    A Patch of Blue
    Barefoot in the Park

    For sweetness:
    Return to Me

    Movies with all around greatness:
    Shawshank Redemption

    I really could go on and on, so I'll stop...

  8. This is a great blog post, and I was wondering if maybe I could expand upon this, to the direction of writing through emotional trauma.

    The way I've pushed through is finding music that inspires me, and freewriting. Letting the words flow on their own, without any sure direction (at the moment) can help keep the cogs going, so they can't collect any rust. Getting out of the writing groove is horrible, so that's definitely a way to keep writing without stressing too much.

    Lots of breaks are good. One editor said that the way she replenishes her words is by reading voraciously. If she feels wrung dry of writing, she reads, and inspiration comes back. Plus, reading is easier than producing new work, for the most part.

    Good luck. I hope everything goes well.


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