Writing in Isolation

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The world is very lonely right now, but it’s also revealing some colorful, creative surprises. Even the introverts are going stir crazy, and everyone handles the stress differently. How can you, as a writer, best handle social distancing and self-quarantine?

Determine What You Need

Even if you aren’t sick, your wellbeing needs to be your first priority. That doesn’t mean you should go raid the local grocery store’s dwindling toilet paper supply. It does mean you should stop, sit down, and reflect.

What do you actually need right now? Is it time to make a schedule for yourself? Do you have the emotional reserves to channel your restless energy into that Big Project you’ve been putting off?

Keep in mind, even if you don’t have to go to work, you still have a life. Handling a kid at home all day every day can (and probably will) eat up more hours than a full-time job. Meals will get more interesting as your pantry stock things as well. Don’t get sucked into something you can’t handle that will only make you more anxious. On the other hand, if you need a structured distraction more than ever, it’s time to dig out The Great American Novel and get to work.

You Don’t Have to Finish Your WIP Right Now

Just because you’re super lonely doesn’t mean you need to be super productive. Yes, coming out of quarantine with a novel ready for publication would be awesome. No, you aren’t a failed writer if you don’t finish that short story this month.

Listen to your body and pay attention to your mental health. If sitting down to write in the morning leaves you a teary mess all day, it’s probably too much. If you can’t stop your leg from bouncing when you haven’t finished that tricky chapter, then put that energy to work.

Look for Support Online

Just because you can’t meet up with friends at the coffeeshop doesn’t mean you can’t socialize. The writing community has thus far done a stellar job supporting its members. NaNoWriMo has come out with a special program to help anxious writers stay busy without overwhelming themselves. Lots of great authors are doing live readings and/or offering free books. Best of all, writers like you and me have turned Twitter’s #WritingCommunity into a vast pool of encouragement, advice, and practical support that can boost your online presence long after the Corona virus has spent its fury.

You’re Living Through History

If you feel too overwhelmed right now to imagine a whole new world of problems, then embrace what’s happening. This is going to be in history books. Kids will study this time period at school.

A lot of historians and archeologists are encouraging people to journal. Personal logs – especially if they’re hand-written – can survive generations. Your take on events may help future researchers, even if you don’t transform your journal into a best-selling memoir.

Journaling keeps your mind open and your skills in practice. It’s a great habit to pick up regardless of pandemic threats, but at the very least, you can treat it as a month-long writing experiment.

Whether you bang out three first drafts, polish that half-forgotten WIP until it glows, or just leave a few notes for history, you’re doing this whole writerly isolation thing perfectly. Use writing as an escape or give yourself space to breathe. Both paths are valid.

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