Saturday, April 11, 2020
Coronavirus vs. Creativity: Writing Through Crisis ~ by Siera London
Hi, Word Play. Thank you, Kristine, for welcoming me in the Word Play universe, first with my March 4th podcast interview and now with the written word.
Honestly, I struggled with what to write for this blog post, and that’s when it hit me that I have been struggling to find my writing rhythm since this coronavirus pandemic gripped the country. Prior to releasing my debut novel, “Chasing Ava” in 2015, I was a pediatric nurse practitioner in the United States Navy. When the US media started reporting on the coronavirus outbreak in a Washington nursing home, I mentally pulled my fingers from the computer keys and slipped on my stethoscope and lab coat.
As the pandemic has spread across the country, I’ve felt an increasing need to receive a continuous intravenous drip of COVID-19 statistics, epidemiological updates, and national news briefings. This need has wreaked havoc on my completing my latest release, “Mocha Latte”. Oh, did I mention my significant other is working from home too? My standard breakfast of plain yogurt, with granola, and fruit may be the breakfast of romance writing champions, but not couples. The question of the day has morphed into, “Babe, are we having pancakes and sausage or eggs and grits this morning?” So, I had to develop a new routine. Self-isolation and/or quarantine is not a vacation. Acknowledge that even though you are at home, this is not a business as usual vacation…the world is stressed and this crisis is disrupting every aspect of daily living.
Here’s what works for me, and I’m hopeful my daily productivity plan will give you some ideas.
1. Establish a new daily schedule. Decide how many hours you plan to work per day, and then insert planned breaks. Generally, I write in 15 minutes spurts for 45 minutes, and then I increase to 30 minutes with 10-minute breaks until the end of my work day. I use an old-fashioned timer with a dial to keep me honest to 30-minute sprints.
2. The process of getting words onto the page can be cathartic for writers. Make a brief outline of the scene/s you want to write for the day. Nothing fancy, just a line or two about the beginning, middle, and end of the scene. Don’t censor yourself, just let the words come and edit them later. If you feel like writing about COVID-19, do it. But, if you want to create a piece where COVID-19 never existed, do that too.
3. Turn off the WiFi, television, and radio during your writing day. Again, it’s about your daily productivity plan. Decide when and for how long you are going to watch, listen, or read the news updates (morning, afternoon, or night). Listen to the news cycle once, and then unplug and get to work.
4. Limit your social media consumption. All the online feeds have been hyperactive since the news of coronavirus began to take hold. If you start reading your newsfeed you may lose precious writing time when you could be adding to your creative well and typing THE END on your WIP.
5. Do your part to stay physically and emotionally healthy and whole. First, be safe. Wash your hands for 20 seconds, actually count to 20 while you gently interweave your fingers, wash both palms, and the back side of each hand before rinsing, and then PAT your hands dry. Schedule some time for routine cleaning of the house as well as the emotional debris of the day. Daily quiet time and a good’s night sleep are equally important. Make time for both.
Second, if you are physically able, don your personal mask and take a gentle walk outside of your home or pull up a YouTube fitness video. Exercise is a stress reliever which can fuel your creativity and stave off the cabin fever feeling.
Third, reach out and talk when you need to. Social connection is important. Our world may be a scary place right now, but as writers, we have the power to bring respite and hope to our readers. Write On!
Siera London is the USA Today Bestselling & Award-winning author of contemporary and paranormal romance, romantic suspense, and crime fiction. She crafts stories of diverse characters navigating the challenges and triumphs to find lasting love. Intelligence, wit, emotion, drama, and romance are between the covers of every Siera London novel. Siera lives in Virginia with her husband, and a color patch tabby named Frie.
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Listen to Siera London's podcast episode here.