Is This Real Life? Is This Just Fantasy?

In light of the current situation surrounding our world, there seems to be no escape from reality. A phrase like, “We’re all in this together,” has never held more truth. With nearly everything around us closed it feels somewhat strange to have the world continue to spin. Some nights I go to sleep and think I’ll wake up and it will have all been a dream. But as each day passes and the longer we remain in this new “norm,” I realize this is real life. And not a fantasy. So how can I create a new routine, a new functionality, a new “norm?”

Since I’ve been working from home with my day job for 6-7 years, continuing to do so hasn’t been much different. Though now, I have kids at home due to school closure. As well as a distracted mind by all that is going on around me in not only daily life, but the world. My volunteer work has been switched to online, livestreams, and virtual meetings. My family still needs clean clothes and to be fed. So not everyone is bored at this time, some of us seem to have more on our plates than ever before. Which has made accomplishing anything “extra” difficult.

Writing is not only a passion, it’s also a way of self-care for me. But when I have many things on my to-do list, and I’m quarantined inside the house with four other people and two dogs, it gets placed on the back burner. This is common in what I’m hearing around the writing/creative world right now. Everyone seems to be having a hard time to either create or to produce. But if you need to do it to center you, to get your self-care in, (like me) you need to try to find a way–in your new routine, new “norm,” to make it a priority. Sources tell us, this virus, this stay-at-home order isn’t going away anytime soon, and I don’t know about you, but I can’t continue spiraling. I need to find a way to fit my writing into my new “norm.”

Here’s some tips I plan on putting to the test:

-Delegate a specific time each *day to write.

-Try not to read the news on the day you plan to write, (it will be there when you’re done–trust me).

-Find a place in your home where you can separate from distractions to write, (noise cancelling headphones are amazingly helpful as well).

-Set a goal of what you’d like to accomplish during that writing session.

-If social media is a distraction or brings you down, try to take a break or step away until you’ve met your goal.

-Find either an online writing community or critique group, somewhere or someone you can find support, (it’s so much better knowing you’re not alone).

There’s not much control we have over the decisions being made surrounding our world right now, but we can take control of our actions. And for me, making writing a priority means I’m making my mental health a priority. I’m planning on setting small writing goals to start with. But also plan to give myself grace. These are uncharted waters. Please feel free to share your goals, how you’re managing with your writing, or how writing has changed since the virus hit your community.

Stay safe and healthy, friends!

*I say, each day, however the reality for some may be every other day, or weekly. Whatever you used to do before the pandemic seems like a solid choice/goal.

Finding a Writing Group

Finding my writing group was both the most frightening and fantastic thing ever. After I picked up writing again after I had taken time off while my kids were young, I had been writing solo for about a year. While writing is mostly a solitary activity, I knew I needed to find support and community. I had already found a solid group of beta readers but I needed support and encouragement from other writers. When things get tough, when you feel like quitting, when you feel uninspired, or frustrated, or like no one in your life understands your passion and calling, having other writers who support you is priceless.

I found my group by Googling writing groups in my community. There were a few but the one that caught my attention for a few different reasons was a part of Meet Up called Shut Up and Write. For one, it was free to join-no membership fees. Two, there wasn’t any read alouds or critiquing involved. And three, I figured I could survive the 15 minute meet/greet at the beginning and end because there was a solid hour of silent writing time in between. I found the idea of chatting about myself/my project intimidating but the accountability intriguing.

When I went to my first meeting at the coffee shop, I was nervous. But everyone was friendly and welcoming. I decided to go again. And again. Each time it got easier and easier. Soon, I developed a friendship with the other members. Now, we talk about our projects, bounce ideas off of one another, and talk through writer’s block. Sometimes we talk about our favorite authors or craft books.

These people have become my community and my friends and I’m forever grateful to have joined. Having people like this during your writing journey is essential. I hope you have your own group and if not, that you have the opportunity to find one near you. Here’s a link for Shut Up and Write to check if there’s one in your area.