Tuesday, March 31, 2020

Writing Now That Things Are Different

For a lot of us, things have gotten really intense really fast. Shelter in place orders have a lot of us now spending way more time at home than usual. (For those of you now spending all day with small children, I bid you strength.) However, to me, it was a dream came true when my state issued "shelter in place" because it meant that I would have so much more time for writing! At last, nobody can invite me to some event that my Midwest Nice upbringing won't let me refuse - I'm quickly learning that I'm more of an introvert than I thought I was, haha.

Just as quickly, though, I'm realizing that simply being home does not equal more writing. Don't get me wrong, I've been productive, but I've been doing things like hanging photos on the walls or deep-cleaning the spare room or learning to make macarons. Exactly zero writing has happened so far. And it makes me feel so guilty that I can't sleep at night. Here I have this golden opportunity to knock out an entire round of revisions in a weekend, and what am I doing? Staring into a pot of sugar water to make sure it doesn't crystallize.

Being at home all day felt like it should be perfect: I could wear sweatpants, snack all day, and spend hours with my cat. Once work hours are over, though, I'm stuck with two things: a desire to write, and a burning need to not sit at my computer anymore. And somehow, writing keeps getting pushed back, usurped by some household chore that just needs to happen right now for some unfathomable reason. Every night, I curl in on myself, hating that I didn't even think about revisions.

But the thing is, we shouldn't beat ourselves up for not being our most productive during a literal pandemic. Things are different now, and they will be for the foreseeable future. An adjustment period is expected - natural, even. A lot of us have more pressing things to deal with, like trying to arrange child care while also working from home, or suddenly being without a job, or dealing with the fact that a close relation is sick. It is okay to not write a single word during these trying times. It is okay to write an entire novel because you can't go to work and you're self-isolating. If you can, reach out to your writing friends and check in on them. But remember, don't take on more than you can handle. Nobody is keeping score.

The only things you really need to do are stay home, stay safe, and wash your hands.

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