Kristen Otte

Finding Love and Laughter through Story

Writing Fiction During the Rough Stretches of Life


I am sure you have experienced one of those days, weeks or months where nothing seems to go your way. It could be a bunch of little things that add up to a tough week. Or something monumental which affects everything else in your life. Either way, those stretches are not fun.

Currently, Brian and I seem to be stuck in one of those rough stretches. Most of the bad luck is inconsequential in the grand scheme of life. We replaced the throttle in my jetta which was an unexpected expensive repair. Both of our jobs are in busy, wear you down stretches. My stepfather is very sick. Amidst this rough stretch, I started wondering if or how the rough times affect my fiction writing.

For me, writing fiction is an escape from the world. I get lost in the characters and world I create. So when the world sucks around me, I find myself eager to write, to immerse myself in a world I create and control.

On the other hand, I also find myself adding more conflicts to my stories and being more realistic with how my characters handle adversity. For instance, I’m working on novel revisions. In one section, my protagonist, Rachel had way too good of a reaction to bad news. So I promptly made some notes to change her reaction to match the news.

The good news about writing fiction is you get to create the ending. In my life, I’m not sure when the bad luck will turn. But, in my stories, I can create a happy ending. Maybe that’s why I’m so eager to spend time writing when I’m not feeling the greatest, because I know I will always end the story with a good resolution.

How does the rough stretches of life affect your writing?


3 thoughts on “Writing Fiction During the Rough Stretches of Life

  1. Hi Kristen, You have a great blog! I am just preparing for tonight and clicked on your link. Looking forward to reading your short stories!

  2. Sometimes it slows it down temporarily if I’m under back-breaking amounts of stress.

    Once I’ve had a chance to recover emotionally and physically, though, I find a lot of inspiration in the dark periods of life. What makes one person persevere and another crumble under the pressure of similar traumas? How are excruciatingly painful memories processed a month, a year, or a decade later?

    I don’t focus on specific memories when I’m writing but what I create is definitely affected by my emotional state. Grief is a universal experience. So is disappointment, self-doubt, and that tinge of hope that tickles the corner of your mind when you finally figure out things might be ok after all. 🙂

    I also think there’s value in acknowledging that life can be horrifically difficult sometimes. A character who has lived through something heartbreaking (and still sees all of the beauty in our world!) is much more interesting to me than one who has sailed through life or let the pain make him or her bitter.

  3. Good topic. I think my story ideas become gloomier when I’m down, but otherwise I just fight through it. Maybe I’m too close to see the change, though.

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