I have found that I can continue working on a novel even under times of great stress or problems. For some reason, the writing process takes me out of the situation at hand and enables me to use different thinking modes. About eleven years ago, I found that playing Beethoven sonatas on the piano from memory had a similar effect. The playing acted as a diversion from the problem, but at the same time took on an almost “spiritual” dimension, similar perhaps to that of prayer or meditation. Strange, but true. As someone who struggles a lot with organised religion, I have benefitted in many ways and on many levels from music and writing.