With most writers’ conferences and events canceled (along with everything else) this summer, staying networked and energized is going to take extra work. In this crazy year of COVID-19, here’s how I’m (trying!) to use my time wisely. I hope to turn the proverbial lemons into lemonade by increasing my writing productivity, pushing myself to communicate with other book lovers, and taking the opportunity to improve my craft. What will you do to improve your writing during coronavirus summer?
Social Media Networking
My natural habitat is not on social media. I opened a Twitter account, but all I do is lurk because I’m intimidated by what to post, who to follow, and the weirdos online. Plus, I’ve always figured that since writing my actual manuscript is relegated to the elusive “spare time” I don’t have, the last thing I wanted to do was waste any on social media.
However, I’ve had a recent change of heart. Instagram seemed like a less scary place, and even though that’s a place I’ve also lurked, I decided to dive into “bookstagram.” Bookstagram is the hashtag (i.e., key work) used by the book community on Instagram. There are luscious, beautifully staged photographs of books, a few reviews, some writing advice, and so far…some very nice people! I got almost fifty messages welcoming me when I opened my account, which I thought was great.
I’m still getting a handle on it, but I’ve shared frustrations about manuscripts with someone, book recommendations, and I’ve had a quick primer on video editing, photo editing, and other “techy” stuff that was previously daunting. I hope I can keep it up, but so far, so good. It’s been a positive experience, and I can feel myself pushing beyond my comfort zone, which is a plus as well.
The Summer to Git ‘er Done
Our family normally travels a lot in the summertime. The grandparents are in different states, so we make an effort to spend time with them in addition to taking trips here and there for vacation. The result is that we’re either on the go, unpacking, or repacking, which leaves me little time to write. This summer is, shall we say, different. With basically nothing to do and nowhere to go, I’ve got very few excuses for not writing. Instead of losing it with frustration about a pandemic I can’t change, I’ve decided to channel that energy into writing. This manuscript isn’t typing itself. It’s time to git ‘er done.
A Case Study
I’ve mentioned this in a previous post, but last summer I decided to spend my conference budget on hiring a developmental editor. It was a great idea. First, the editor was much cheaper than a conference, especially when I factor in the real cost instead of the cost I pretend it will be (you know, the calculation that doesn’t include hotel room taxes, snacks at the airport, drinks out, cab fare, etc.). Second, the editor basically did a case study of my manuscript, showing me where I (not where someone else) could improve.
Although I find workshops at conferences to be great, the advice is generalized, and even when I think I understand what they’re saying, sometimes it’s hard to apply it to my own work. The other factor is the inevitable blind spots we all have to our own writing. Sometimes we aren’t imparting what we think we are and having that neutral, yet professional, eye helps. This is something I intend to do again, should I manage to keep my six-year-old occupied and actually finish my work in progress!
I hope you all are able to write and keep your wits this summer too.