Last week was a tough one for me. The enormity of the coronavirus situation finally sank in, not to mention the long-term implications of home-schooling, and working full-time, and doing all the other usual tasks around the house.
I feel bad for saying this, as some people have it so much worse. The NHS workers for one, who are still going flat-out to keep the population alive. Teachers for another, who are going into school to teach key-workers’ children, and thus putting themselves at risk. And let’s hear it for all the rest of the key-workers too; the supermarket employees, the bin-men, the post-men – they all deserve our thanks.
By contrast, I’ve got it easy. Yes, my husband is on the vulnerable list (which adds to the complexity), but overall, we’re safe and secure in our home. Our jobs are secure (ish). So, what have I got to complain about, right?
Accepting the situation, and working with it
Despite knowing I was one of the fortunate ones, I still felt very down last week. Hey, it happens. Denying it doesn’t really help, unfortunately.
As you can imagine, the creative writing side of things flat-lined. Even on the rare occasion I got to open a manuscript and start editing, my mind went blank. What did it matter, anyway? What could I possibly offer to the world through these words? The planet needed a lot more than my waffle – and the knowledge of this was stifling, in creative terms.
Changing the script
That’s when it really hit home – if I couldn’t go back to ‘work as normal’, I’d have to adapt. I needed a focus, and to take the positives out of the situation.
Here are a few ways you can do the same:
- Change your tactics. If you’re not feeling in the mood to work on your novel, do something different. Create a diary entry about how this lockdown situation is really making you feel. Write a short story about the first places you’ll visit when you’re allowed out again. It’ll be cathartic, if nothing else!
- Give yourself some focus. One of the best things I did was spot a competition online. It made me pull out a manuscript I hadn’t looked at in ages, then start editing it with fresh eyes. But I needed that competition to give me the motivation. It doesn’t have to be a competition of course; it could be writing a story for your mother, or a comic strip for your kids. Give it some purpose – it really helps.
- Set some challenges online. If you’ve got some writerly friends, get them involved. At the very least, talk about your plans together, and stay in touch regularly to find out how you’re all progressing. It doesn’t matter if you’ve made very little progression; it all adds up in the long-run.
- Remember there will be a future. This isn’t forever. We’ll face a strange, disruptive few months (possibly a year), but in a few years’ time, it’ll be a bizarre memory; nothing more, nothing less. As a result, document as much of this time as you can – because you’ll be amazed at how much you’ll forget, when time has passed. Who knows, it might form the basis of your next novel!