I had big plans this summer as I’m sure many of us did, until Covid unexpectedly changed everything. As a speculative fiction writer, a big part of my marketing and sales plan involves speaking engagements and book signings at conventions all over the country. Clearly, that’s out of the question this year.
In the publishing world, many things are out of the writer’s control. I guess we need to add global pandemic to the list! See this post I wrote about staying focused on the things we can control: The Modern Writer’s Life: An Intersection of Art and Industry.
The most important thing we do as writers is, well, write, and that’s something we can continue to do even during these strange times. I’ve personally decided to let go of any expectations I had for the time being and find a new way to look at my art and my career goals.
Because I can’t travel, either for business or for pleasure, I’ve decided to consider this summer one big writing retreat. I have my outdoor writing space all ready, and I’ll be blocking off extended hours dedicated to my writing project. I’m aiming to finish a first draft in the next two months when usually I’m lucky to hit 30k words in the summertime.
If that doesn’t sound doable, maybe you can use this time to shake things up creatively. Cross genres. Draft a collection of short stories. Write poetry. Whatever you do, aim to do it joyfully. Writing is cathartic. It’s generative. It’s something most of us need to do. Maybe we can use this crisis to reframe our perspective. If so, we might find the gift of time in this challenging space.
I rely a lot on in-person events to interact with my readers, but I’ve had to adapt. Do you have a mailing list? If so, you can use it as a way to stay in touch with readers. If not, maybe it’s time to build one. Before Covid, I communicated with the folks on my list weekly. During the crisis, I didn’t increase the number of communications, but I did change the content up a bit. Instead of just sharing my own thoughts and promoting my work, I asked questions, checked in on my readers, and invited them into conversations. What about your social media platform? This too, should be more than a place to promote yourself. Now, more than ever, you can use it interactively. Ask questions. Check in on people.
Look for the opportunities.
From my previous work in education, I’ve been trained to look for opportunities no matter the circumstances. Despite all that we can’t do during this time of Covid, there are opportunities. Perhaps it’s time to say yes to something new. Could you collaborate with another writer on a project, participate in an on-line conference, mentor someone? I said yes to presenting at an online science fiction convention. I’m working with a friend to develop her middle grade writing project. I’m writing a series of short stories in addition to my full-length manuscript.
This summer isn’t shaping up like any of us expected, but we have a choice about how we react to it. I’m going to look for new and different opportunities, and I’m going to use this time to dive deeply into my newest writing project.