Every writer I know is struggling.
They’ve got a good reason, too. Writing is tough under the best circumstances, so it’s no surprise that writers are having a hard time getting words on paper during a global pandemic that threatens our collective economic future. We are all doing our best to stay safe and help others.
But the distractions can pile up. Some of us are worried about the news. Some are dealing with illness. Some are stuck at home with small children who wait until the exact second we open a Word document and then appear at the door to ask three thousand questions about woolly mammoths.
Let’s just say, for the sake of argument, that we still want to get work done during this time. What are some things do we can do?
No 1. Be kind to yourself
I’m not suggesting you consume massive amounts of Chardonnay in a comically large glass. Alcohol is bad for you and can cause liver damage.
You do need to find ways to cope. This could take the form of socially distant walks while listening to punk rock, or baking a giant cookie, or binging on Netflix’s “The Witcher,” or if you are of age and drink responsibly, having a martini while on a Zoom session with your BFFs.
Be kind to yourself. Hydrate. Eat a little something healthy. Recognize that we are living in historically-important moment, which is stressful, but it will pass eventually.
Adjust your expectations — and then give it whatever you’ve got.
No 2. Break down tasks
One of my favorite moments in “Ford v Ferrari” (2019) was when Ken Miles laughs in Carroll Shelby’s face after Shelby tells him how long they have to produce a car that can defeat Ferrari at Le Mans. The task seems impossible.
Right now, writing may feel like an impossible task. One trick to try: break down the task. Make a deal with yourself to write 100 words, that’s it. If that’s all you do today, you’ve still done something. Then write another set of 100 words the next day. More and more. It’s all about giving yourself practical goals – whatever that is for YOU.
You don’t have to finish your whole script in one sitting. Break it down. Keep at it. Motor on.
No 3. Reach out
Everyone knows one of the best ways to manage stress is talking to friends, family, and loved ones. We know it — but we don’t always DO it.
That has to change. Chat with a neighbor from a safe distance, call a friend, text your sister a silly meme, write a postcard to your Aunt Griselda, put a rolled-up note into a bottle and cast it into the sea. Take a minute to connect with someone. It might help.
It sounds counterintuitive to suggest taking a break from writing to get our writing flowing again, but sometimes breaks are exactly what we need. When we get back to the keyboard, there’s a good chance we’ll feel more energized.
So be kind to yourself, give yourself practical goals, and connect with someone. Tough times don’t last, but tough people do!
3 Replies to "How to Survive Writing During a Pandemic"
Dale Gillespie May 21, 2020 (6:56 am)
I don’t see what’s so hard about writing now than in any other particular time. You got lots of time on your hands… WRITE for Gods sake. No excuses.
Christiana Igwah May 22, 2020 (4:05 pm)
Very true. The best time to write is now.
Edwin N Turner May 27, 2020 (3:54 pm)
Experienced the opposite. Taking a second look at a screenplay after reading a good LA analysis from a reader that doesn’t give advice on how “they” would write your screenplay, everything clicked into place. Had to write because the ideas kept coming, often had to get up in the middle of the night, often around 2 A.M. to jot down the gist of what “came in” from goodness know with another good idea which I had to jot down so I’d remember it the next morning. For about two months that tap kept running never going out of water. Now it’s back to gardening, more exactly cutting down all the weeds that were happily growing while I was busy writing inspired by Covid self-isolation, an old guy who wants to grow older.