What keeps me from writing isn't writer's block. I've never experienced that. The reverse problem applies: too many ideas and not knowing which to attack next. Mostly, I want to talk about issues that every writer will face sooner or later, and I had a bunch of them this year as did friends of mine.
I experienced the full circle of life in the past twelve months. My first granddaughter came into the world in the spring. A week of writing was traded for rocking a fretting newborn and making an Easter celebration for the older child, well worth the time. In June, the death of my elderly mother, a blessed release for her, but the start of the stress and strain of getting what should have been a simple settling of a very small estate that became an enormous amount of trouble. I took another week off to scatter her ashes in Pennslyvania under the tree planted for my dad and where his ashes lie. We planted some crocus, too, but as I now live a thousand miles from PA, I don't know if they will bloom. Also got talked into going to a class reunion up there, another rite of passage and not nearly as painful as I feared, fun even.
Illness. Two author friends are no longer writing while dealing with diseases we all fear. Two others passed away. I've been lucky so far, but can tell you that being laid up after knee surgery, doing heavy PT and taking heavier pain killers means six weeks of no writing. Last week, I inexplicably broke out in full body hives for no reason the doctor could find. I guarantee you cannot put an itchy butt in chair for hours, and Benadryl will have you dozing in your seat, face down on desk. Clearing up now and getting some writing done.
Writing Setbacks. The first book I submitted in 2015, The Courville Rose, rejected and still homeless. The second, She's a Sinner, a light-hearted Sinners tale about the NFL's first female player, was published in September following Son of a Sinner out earlier in January. Son did well, but She has garnered no reviews at all which makes me think no one read or liked the book, so why am I doing this? Meanwhile, I sold a single title, A Will of her Own, that had editing problems up the wahzoo. I worked through them, but the changes sucked away some of my joy in writing the book. It will come out in the spring sometime, and I should be thankful to be having a 2016 release after all of the above experiences, both good and bad.
Travel is my weakness. I love to go and went a little too much this year. Not complaining about the two weeks I took off to visit Ireland, no, not at all, but I didn't get around to starting a second book for 2016 (I usually aim for two) until I got back in late August. I'm still laboring over and having fun with An Ashy Affair, but won't finish it until maybe February because I also ran smack-dab into...
The Holidays. Cooking, baking, shopping, putting up a tree and other decorations, Christmas cards and a family letter all take up gobs of time and distract the mind. I did get a small respite after setting my stove on fire with gravy and so wrote for a few days while awaiting the arrival of a new stove. Believe me, it is best to bow to the publishing custom of shutting down for December and just let yourself enjoy the company of family, friends, and good food.
Most publishers would like you to put out two books a year at the very least as writers are soon forgotten if they have nothing new to offer. Three would be even better. Since I write full-length works in excess of 75,000 words, two is about my best effort, though I appear to write more as some books are held back and some leap ahead in the publishing process. Regardless, something must always be in the mill, and some years will be more productive than others because every writer will encounter all of the above sooner or later.
Wishing you time off to enjoy the holidays and a New Year with fewer interruptions--unless they are joyous ones.