As we all know, the world has changed with the COVID-19 pandemic, and with it, so have we. Some keep busy by working from home and/or homeschooling their kids. For many of us, though, our days have started to meld together, into a kind of goo that keeps us from knowing what day of the week it is. And this makes it especially tricky to be creative.
Like many of you, I’m struggling. As a writer, one might think that all this free time would mean I would finish my new novel. However, writing words of fiction has proved difficult on many days to the point that I’m frozen with paralysis. This impending dread hanging over my head makes it seem impossible to write a story about a young woman who does “normal” things like hug her parents, go to school, go to parties and wield magic in a group (well, normal within the setting of the novel). At times, I’ve felt writing about such things is disingenuous, particularly as the novel is set in the modern world.
But it’s not just the setting that is giving me issues. It’s creativity, in general. These days, my thoughts are all over the place, making it difficult to focus on any one task. I have good days, though: those days where I wake up and I know I’m going to be working on re-writes and creating new scenes. And I run with writing on those days, because they are few and far between. On many days, though, words won’t come and I refocus my energies elsewhere: on planning virtual vacations, on learning to crochet or on reading and watching TV. Sometimes, I just want to dive into a video game, and sometimes, I just want to sleep (I’m sleeping a lot these days).
And here’s the thing: it’s okay that I’m not working on my fiction. And it’s okay to not feel guilty about it. I have a lot on my mind, like most people, and we’re living in unprecedented times. It’s okay if you feel that way, too. And that’s important to remember as we should try not to judge ourselves on how “productive” our days are or aren’t. If you got out of bed this morning, congratulations, you’ve done something productive. If you managed to brush your teeth, give yourself a gold star because, let’s face it, brushing our teeth seems so pointless now. Eating meals is productive. Getting through the day doing the bare minimum is productive in this day and age.
It won’t always be like this. And eventually, things will get back to some semblance of what they used to be. Until then, though, give yourself permission to mourn for what we’ve lost and not beat yourself up if you aren’t accomplishing the next great American novel during this pandemic, or whatever those stupid productivity websites are telling you you’re supposed to be doing with all this free time.
You do you: survive, be safe, be healthy. This is the time of COVID-19. Don’t forget to let yourself breathe and just stare into the nothingness of endless days and nights. And if you do happen to accomplish even little things, pat yourself on the back. You’ve earned it. We all have.