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How (Not) to Write in a Pandemic


What a strange year it has been for most of us, and I'm very thankful not to have any sadness or major problems. However, my writing life has been through a roller-coaster ride.


Let me explain by dividing the time since the pandemic struck into three phases.


Phase 1: Freedom, Hedonism, and Getting Nothing Done

A silent cheer went up inside me at the notion of everything closing down: no getting up early to get the kids ready for school; no arguments about homework; nowhere else I should be. Lockdown came with a wonderful sense of peace: this is what the world should be like, my family and I having fun, exploring new walks, new board games (yes, we had a serious board game phase), and new recipes. In a clear inverse ratio, my writing output dipped to new lows as writing became something I did when I wasn't doing anything more fun. And when you have a deadline for a novel, perhaps this way of thinking isn't so very useful, which led to...


Phase 2: Trying to Catch Up and Chasing my Tail

You can't force creative writing. No matter how much that deadline stares you in the face, rushing it does not help. I spent a few months chasing my tail, re-thinking characters, trying to race through only to have to rewrite chapters completely, and the final straw, realizing that the plot had gone off on a massive tangent, demanding a full overhaul. Frustration, long work hours, and, at times, sheer panic overwhelmed me: how could I finish the chaos that the book had become?


Phase 3: Giving Myself a Break and Getting Back on Track

After the months of turmoil, I decided that stressing out was also not conducive to good writing, so I gave myself break, accepted the lost time as simply that, and went back to my usual slow, steady, thoughtful approach... and what do you know, it works! Now I feel confident the book will be done on time, and I actually think it might be a good one, too.


I hope your writing has flourished during the pandemic, and wish you safe and literary,

Jennifer

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Beth Owls Daughter
Beth Owls Daughter
08 sep. 2021

Ignoring that very odd comment posted below, I have an actual question.. I am new to your blog, so please forgive me if it is answered in another post somewhere.. But having gobbled down The Kitchen Front, the Chilbury Ladies' Choir, and pacing up and down waiting for The Spies of Shilling Lane to be checked in at my library, what are you working on now? This deadline you are speaking of?? Dying to know! - Beth ps: thank you for your wonderful, wonderful writing! I kind of went a bit over the Moon on my Goodreads reviews, but meant every word. 😊

pps: so glad to hear that you are not being affected by the pandemic in some terrible…

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