How to write through a pandemic? My every-damn-day-writing habit, cultivated during National Novel Writing Month three years ago, that’s how I’m doing it. Yes, I have days when my head is full of clouds rather than words.
And then I have mornings when the light coming through my East-facing window seems to waft golden ideas into my head and out through my tapping fingers. Or even more likely, when I’m in the shower and a frantic inspiration strikes, I reach out with a carefully dried hand for my phone and dictate a note.
The trick is having the habit. It’s like showing up for work. It is in fact, work. If I remember that I’m a craftsman, not myself a Muse or minor writing goddess, I feel grounded. If I lack ideas, I do editing, or even file organization and time planning. I do something, for at least an hour, first time every day. And I don’t give myself weekends off.
Habits are powerful things. That’s why it’s so hard to kick the bad ones. But knowing a habit is power, you can cultivate the habit. Starting with twenty minutes. Who can’t sit in front of their screen for that long? Even if you write just one word, you’ve done your job.
Like singing or dancing, you can increase your writing endurance with practice. It, too, is a muscle — just a mental one.
Surviving a pandemic while writing is like surviving my brother’s death through writing. That’s when I began this daily practice. It was my escape from the pain. It’s become my joy through whatever else is going on in life, whether it’s tedium, stress, crazy-busy work times, anxiety, or sheltering in my home. At least I’m lucky enough to have food, a roof, and a laptop. And time and my imagination. The basics for a writer.