“Don’t let what you can’t do stop you from doing what you can do.” John Wooden
For most of us, this is the first pandemic we’re witnessing in our lifetime – the first to lead to a complete standstill and revolution of our daily lives. The last pandemic on a comparable level was the Spanish flu in 1918, and boy, am I glad I wasn’t around for that one.
And just as the pandemic has forced us to revamp our routines and adjust to this new masked way of life, our writing practice has been affected too. Extroverted writers, in particular, may be suffering more so and seeing their creativity taking a dip since COVID began.
Personally, as an ambivert, my mental health did take a toll with the increasing isolation. It’s been eight months since I’ve seen a friend, socialized or “gone out” the way I used to.
Finding the energy to write, inspiration to create and drive to keep dreaming was rough, all things considered.
I threw myself into my work and made several strides with my professional aspirations instead.
But touching the pages of my abandoned novels? Yeah, no. My characters could wait, just as I am for the end of this dreadful pause on my life.
But with time, I forced myself to admit to one hard truth: none of this is in my control. So, rather than find faults with the current state of the world, sit back on my grouchy bum and not try to write at all, I realized I might as well make the best of what I’ve got.
And what did I gain during this pandemic?
Lots of it.
Time to finally read that book I couldn’t get around to last year.
Time to learn new skills by taking on a fun creative writing course.
Time to connect with other writers and explore new writing communities (4thewords, anyone?)
I’ve done so much in my search for answers that I didn’t even realize I was accomplishing and learning so much along the way.
I even spent a month doing research into culture issues, sexuality and race for an intimidating book idea I’d kept on the back burner for years. In July, I wrote my first draft for it. Was it the best draft? No. But what’s worse – a shitty draft or an empty page?
So, while our creativity may have taken a bad hit this year and staring at the four walls of your room might not give you the inspiration you need, there’s still a world of opportunity for us if only we choose to see it that way.
In my next post, I’ll be recommending a couple strategies to keep those words flowing during these crazy times and to avoid that creative dry-spell we all dread.
Until then, maybe we all ought to sit back and go a little easy on ourselves. The world’s in a bad place right now, sure, but we’ve still got our words to save us.
Also, it doesn’t hurt to take a break and do some sky-gazing once in a while. If you’re lucky, you might even spot the Red Planet!