Writing Through the “Between Times”

In his “Picture This” blog last week, Rob Sanders spoke of a conversation he had with a friend who observed,

“I think you’re living in the in-between right now.” She went on to say she had been reading about those times in life that are in-between and how challenging those times can be. I’ve thought a lot about living in the in-between since then. Most of us are in between something…. We can be in between relationships, in between times of happiness, in between jobs, in between career paths, in between doing what we have to do and doing what we’d love to do, in between periods of health, and more.

As writers, we have lots of in-between times, too. We can be in between a completed project and the beginning of a new one, in between ideas, in between periods of inspiration, in between the time we send off a manuscript and the time we hear back, in between the time a manuscript is sold and the time a book is released, in between sales of books, in between agents, in between critique groups, and more.

I am most definitely in an in-between place right now. I have two finished novels for which I am searching for agents. I am working on world-building for a new fantasy novel. And I am looking for a job—a task I’ve discovered that takes up more time than forty-hour-a-week employment!

Being in between is not a comfortable place. Frustration is likely to be its dominant emotion. Certainty and stability suddenly are certain and stable no more. You have to spend time doing things you don’t want to do in order to move forward out of this limbo, and what lies ahead is often cloaked in mist.

So how do you live, and stay sane and productive in-between?

  • Take care of yourself—brush your teeth, eat your fruits and vegetables, get a good night’s sleep.
  • Set goals and break them down into simple doable steps.
  • Do what you need to do.
  • Keep your eyes and heart open to the simple pleasures of daily life
  • Allow yourself a little time to do things you love.
  • Read.
  • Write—journal entries, notes, poetry, letters, lists…
  • Spend time with people you love.
  • Remember what you believe and why you believe it.

I know eventually I will find employment and be freed from this time gobbler known as a job-hunting. I’ll finish world-building and start writing the novel I am eager to adventure into. I’ll establish new routines, a new normal, and my life will have regular places for the things that matter to me.

In the meantime, I will work and rest, read and write, learn and grow.

How about you? Are you in a between time, too?