Here we are, halfway through the first month of 2014. Like most of you, I’m still reeling from 2013. I’ve been a list maker all my life. I keep a running list of goals I hope to accomplish. It helps me to get a handle on things, and gives me great pleasure when I can mark something off because it’s done. It may not work for everyone, but it works for me.

This year, however, it almost did me in. My list was daunting and unrealistic. In setting my writing goals, I completely forgot to factor in other things life throws at you. I don’t have to tell you how difficult it is to balance family, day job and writing. Some of you have been doing it far longer than I have.

We celebrated Christmas 2013 on Thanksgiving this year, so it gave me a two week break at the end of the year. In my mind I was going to rough in the end of my current WIP (a mere 40,000 or so words) and start whipping Chapter One into shape for a contest I’m entering this year. Needless to say things didn’t turn out the way I’d hoped. I deleted more than I typed and spent most of my time in front of the computer, staring at the pages, dissatisfied with what I’d written. This doesn’t ordinarily happen to me. Not for weeks at a time. I’m a pantser who does a little outlining. If I’m trying to write myself out of a tight spot, that’s when I’ve been known to get some of my better ideas.

This time, nothing worked. I finally listened to good advice from fellow writers and the little inner voice I’d been ignoring and gave myself a break. Frankly, I was exhausted. After glancing back, I realize why. My mother passed away in February. My husband and I have five grandchildren who keep us busy. (Band, softball, baseball and T ball), and I still work full-time. This year I spent time promoting my first book, getting my second book ready for publication and finishing my third book. It was accepted in October, and I finished the first round of edits on Christmas Eve. (This is another good reason for making lists…to see what you did accomplish.)

Lesson learned. When we get frustrated because things aren’t clicking along the way we wanted, we need to step back and look at how far we’ve come. I can remember when being a published author was only a goal and not a reality. When I was beginning to wonder if I’d ever get to do all the things I wanted.

What do you do when life overwhelms you? When you get so frustrated, you don’t seem to get anything done. How do you get back on track? Please share your thoughts. I’d love to know.