First and foremost, I hope you and your loved ones are safe during this very stressful time.
Let me step onto this soapbox for a second to say that it’s incumbent on all of us to be good citizens of humanity during this time, even if we’re not personally at high risk. Minimize spread, look out for friends/family/loved ones/neighbors/strangers, and be generous if you have the financial means to help those whose livelihoods have been impacted.
But assuming you’re safe, you have your must-dos covered, and you’re being a responsible citizen: write. Write write write write write.
For many of us, our highest and best use as a human being right now is to stay home and avoid spreading the virus. So stay home and write.
I’ve said before that writing is one of the best ways we have to turn darkness into light. We need people who are taking the stress of this time and turning it into art, even if it’s solely for the effect it has on the artist.
Here are some tips that have worked for me when I needed to write when life circumstances were interfering in a big way:
Recognize your luck
If you have the means and ability to write during this time, you have it really good. Recognize your luck. Let that privilege sink in. Let it guide you toward being a better and more generous person. Do whatever you can to help those who are less fortunate than you are.
Be a good person first, a writer second.
Be patient with yourself
Self-quarantining and working from home might free up time, which could feel like a huge opportunity that you don’t want to pass up.
But paradoxically, having a lot of time to write can actually slow you down. And that’s during calm times, let alone when there’s an avalanche of alarming news streaming through our phones and every day feels like a month.
You’re probably not going to work as quickly as you normally do. Don’t beat yourself up about it.
I’ve previously blogged about the benefits of meditation for writing, and this goes doubly for times of anxiety.
Meditation has a secondary bonus that’s helpful during times like this: it gets you off social media and the news for a while.
Worst case scenarios have their place right now, and short of outright panic, we’d probably do better to overreact than underreact at the moment. But we need hope too.
Savor those best case scenarios and imagine a time after this. Write for the world that’s going to exist after this one. Write towards that life.
Let writing be your light
Call me crazy, but I really do think it matters that people take stress and anxiety out of the air and channel it into something better. We need people who can serve as beacons during the dark times.
Channeling our stress into writing can help us be the best version of ourselves. And I really believe that matters for us and the rest of the world.
And if you haven’t written in a while and are returning to it, here are some tips for returning to writing after a long break:
Do you have any tips for writing during stressful times? How are you approaching this?
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For my best advice, check out my guide to writing a novel (now available in audio) and my guide to publishing a book.
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Art: Memory of the Garden at Etten by Vincent van Gogh