It's not always easy to make time to devote to writing when life is going smoothly (or as smoothly as anyone's life ever goes), let alone when life goes off the rails. Our creativity is often affected by our mental states and sometimes we don't have the mental or emotional energy to get our butts in the chair to write or create.
Covid-19 has been a struggle. I know many writers who have struggled to create during this time of global upheaval (I'm not here to debate Covid-19 or any politics surrounding it, so save your comments). Even before that though, my marriage had taken a downward turn and late last year my husband decided to move out. When you're hurting and heartbroken, it's difficult to create. I've even found it hard to concentrate enough to read much of the time.
At first, I tried to push myself but ended up not making any progress and ultimately feeling miserable about it. So I took some time. I've watched a lot of TV (introducing my teenage daughter to Supernatural) and tried to be kind to myself. Observing other stories (no matter what form) is always good when you aren't feeling up to writing because it allows you to see how other people put things together and may give you ideas.
After a while, the doubts started to creep in though. I've felt that I needed to get something done to query, especially since I'd had a short story published. Seeing the success of writers I know made me feel like I was falling behind (though I was truly happy for each of their successes). Eventually, I started to wonder if I'd ever write again. Every time I thought about writing, I didn't have the heart to sit down with my manuscript.
Luckily, I have some fantastic writer friends who remind me that there is no time limit and that it's okay to take a break. They have reminded me to be gentle with myself. I've done my best to listen to their advice.
After four months of not working on anything writing related, I finally felt strong enough to open my manuscript for some revisions. I read through a few pages and made some adjustments. It felt good to return to my familiar characters. Is this the start of returning to writing? I don't know, and that's okay. I hope so because every day I'm feeling stronger.
For everyone struggling: you are a writer no matter what. If you have put words on a page, finished or not, you are a writer. You do not have to write every day to be a true writer. Discipline is important if you want to get anywhere, but if life is hard and you need time away, there's nothing wrong with that. Take care of yourself first, the writing will be there when you're ready.