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How to Cope and Focus on our Writing During These Covid-19 Times by Irene Roth

These are trying and some of the most difficult times that most of us have had to endure in our lives. For most of us, this is the first time that most nonessential businesses and restaurants are closed. The nightly news keeps painting a bleaker picture by the day on how serious the situation is. All of this causes us to be fearful and to lose our focus.

And a lot of the alarm is well-warranted. However, sometimes too much information can be overwhelming. It will take us off course in our lives and our writing will go out the window. We are all urged to be vigilant and to help each other out in these times as much as we can. However, we don’t have to give up on our writing altogether to cope with these times.

In fact, our writing can become a refuge in times such as these. Not only should we not quit writing. We should make time for it as we would make time for exercise, sleeping adequately, de-stressing, and eating healthy meals. Therefore, for us to keep ourselves mentally and physically healthy, we need balance. We need to focus on what is most important.

If you have been feeling overwhelmed lately, please know that you’re not alone. And if you have been unable to write lately, that too is normal, given our current climate of fear and unrest.

In what follows, I will offer some concrete steps that you can follow to get some writing done and to feel lighter in the process.

  1. If you don’t feel like writing any part of your WIP that’s okay. Why not journal instead. I would suggest that you spend ten to fifteen minutes journaling a few times a day, if necessary, to come to terms with what is happening inside and outside of you. In these turbulent times, it is essential for you to feel like you are expressing your fears in a way that is healthy and cathartic.  Many times, the stuff you journal about can be used in your stories and articles. Imagine if you could later write a how-to article about what you journaled about and post it on your blog or a guest article. For instance, what if you wrote an article about how to balance work, writing and life when you work from home. Or, imagine writing an article about how to stay connected with loved ones, despite the fact you are in social isolation a bit more.
  2. Focus on what’s most important and set your goals and priorities before you start the week as usual. Take an hour or so on Friday or Sunday to decide what you will work on in the upcoming week. If you are clearly aware of what you intend to accomplish, you are more likely to get it done. This is especially the case for your writing.
  3. As your outside activities and obligations are curtailed for a while as more of your work from home, it is very important that you have your writing goals written down every week and that you schedule your writing and do your writing when the time comes. This will ensure that you get some writing done and that you will keep centered on what’s most important. For instance, if you are working from home make sure you block off the times you will be working for work in your planner, and when you plan to do your writing. Also, plan other activities that include your family. We all need to stay connected, even if it is through social media or the phone.
  4. Try not to overwhelm yourself with too much news. Make sure that you keep informed. However, you don’t need to be plugged into the news all day or most of the evening. Try to do other things with your family, such as watch movies, read, or just doodle, write, journal, paint, or play games. The more often you are plugged into the news, the more overwhelmed you will feel. And the more overwhelmed you feel, the less focused you will be.
  5. If you feel stuck in your writing, try setting smaller goals every week. And set no more than a few small goals. Then choose one to start working on come Monday. Complete it and then move on to the next one. For instance, instead of writing a chapter of your WIP, write a blog post or an article for an online directory. Or, you may want to outline the next chapters of your story or book so that when you are able, you can just sit down and write that part of your story.
  6. If you feel mentally overwhelmed, try to meditate or practice yoga. Don’t forget to exercise as well. This will help you cope with negative emotions and you may even assuage some of the negative affects of being at home more.
  7. Try not to panic. Please know that this too shall pass. Try not to live in a way that is hard on your overall health and well-being. Don’t drink alcohol or take drugs to cope with the social isolation. Instead, either do some stream of consciousness journaling or phone someone such as an older person in your community and tell them you are thinking of them.
  8. Get outside and take a walk. The nicer weather is around the corner. So, unless you are supposed to be self-isolating, you can take a walk around your neighborhood or in the park. This will give you some peace of mind and you won’t feel as cooped up inside the house. And who knows, you may also get ideas for stories or articles as you walk. Ideas are all around us. Sometimes, all we have to do is get outside.

 

By taking these steps, you will become more resilient to difficult times like these, and you will make the best of them. What’s more, with focus, you will be able to write, work, and play at home. You can create this balance, one day and one moment at a time.

Writers have a special advantage. All the world is a stage for writers. We can use writing to come to terms with how we are feeling, work through our emotions, express our grief for all the lost lives and suffering in the world, celebrate small accomplishments, and much more. So, use your vocation as a writer to survive these difficult times. Because they too shall pass!

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Irene S. Roth has a master’s degree in Philosophy and Psychology from York University, Ontario Canada and is currently using her expertise to write ...
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