I did okay during COVID, how about you?
As fall approaches, I’m checking in with my COVID summer writing progress report. Despite the pandemic spike, fears about future employment, stir craziness, and continued child and house care burdens…I’m pleased to say that I did A-okay on the writing front. Actually (drum roll, please), I completed a new manuscript! I’m really happy about it, and I look forward to polishing it to a shine once my son (all fingers and toes crossed) goes back to school.
Please remember, I’m just sharing my personal experiences, and if you did no writing at all this summer—you did the right thing for you! There’s no deadline or competition, and we all have to take these extenuating circumstances at our own pace. If you’re interested in what I did and how I did it, however, read on. Summer might not have been your season but fall or winter could be. You are a writer, even if you have to take an occasional sabbatical.
Looking for Control during COVID
I doubt I have to describe the feeling of helplessness and confinement that categorized the spring. For you parents out there having to take on the challenges of homeschooling while ostensibly working from home, you know that struggle was real too. I started to write again in the spring because it offered a little “me” time, but it wasn’t much, so I didn’t get a whole lot done. That said, it started the trend of me taking control of what I could. Fitting in an hour a day to write? I could do that, and the more I did it, the better I felt.
Free Time is Crucial
Although I made those good habits in the spring, like I said, a person only has so much bandwidth, and a day only has so many hours. There was a limit to what I could get done. Once the school year ended, my schedule opened considerably. But then the issue was that I was my young 6-year-old son’s entertainment. The poor kid was so bored and isolated that writing had to be put on the shelf.
The solution we found was one I’m grateful for and lucky to have had access to: there was a small group, socially distanced outdoor camp he could attend a few hours a day. It helped him remember how to make friends, he had fun, and I had four hours of silence to work. Unlike the past when I would have squandered it, I now used my time wisely. Taking advantage of that quiet period was key to making progress.
Socially Distant = Fewer Distractions
I’ve blamed a lot of circumstances on being a slow writer. They were all legitimate excuses too: a baby, then a toddler, then a growing kid, housework, meetings, day job, travel, social activities, and volunteer obligations. These are real, and they take time. The truth is, though, there was free time I could have apportioned to writing that was going to other tasks, like vacationing and hanging out with friends. Although I can’t wait to get back to these activities, not doing them has freed up space for writing that didn’t used to be there. What can I say? I finished a draft by writing (almost) every day in the months of June and July. So much for being a slow poke.
New Family Dynamics
Finally, this progress report on writing during the COVID summer wouldn’t be complete without mentioning that our family’s dynamics have changed—for the better—since this quarantine. My husband has a relatively demanding job, and he had an hour-long commute each way. He often traveled out of state, and child and house care defaulted to my jurisdiction. Now that he’s working from home, he has a minimum of two extra hours per day that he’s not spending on the road. He hasn’t traveled for work in ages, and as a result, he’s been doing a lot of daddy duty. That’s also freed up space for my writing, and it’s been a blessing for the whole family.
My biggest takeaway during this historical, turbulent time of COVID is that thinking about the drama is overwhelming and exhausting, and it inhibits mental health. Writing is an outlet that has enabled me to focus wholly on something other than politics, the COVID pandemic, and pathos. And for that, I am most grateful.