After being in this global lockdown for almost a year, you know the vibe. Days bleed into each other and you’re in your pajamas until noon at your home office, with “office” being loosely used to mean your laptop at your dining table. At the same time, you’re also a writer who saw the pandemic as a time when you’ll finally get to that novel you’ve held off for years, that blog you wanted to start, or that screenplay draft you wanted to blow the dust off. Much to your dismay though, you’re not living like Taylor Swift pushing out 2 albums 5 months apart.
The lack of motivation that this pandemic created is due to a number of factors, such as added stressors and lack of social interaction. As someone who did a lot of odd-and-end writing and didn’t complete anything in 2020, I feel you. But now, you’re ready to end the pity party and get some writing done. Here are some ways that have helped me get projects like this article done without any feet-dragging, and will help you too.
IT’S NOT YOU, IT’S YOUR ROUTINE
What a shocker, I know. If you want to write, you need a system in place. There’s really no trick to do it — you need to make it a habit. It’s one of the things that I actually find fun about being a writer. It’s your little diva-moment, your personal “this is what I need to do to make art,” and it’s so personal.
During 2020, I could easily blame “the pandemic” for why I wasn’t writing, but it was honestly due to the fact that I didn’t have a routine. For example, I find that I’m a morning person through-and-through who needs to get my writing done before work, not after. That means that, yep, I’m waking up at 3:30–4 AM to ease myself in and write. I get ready for the day, make myself a teapot, and go into my little office and work for a couple of hours every single day. That said, I know plenty of people who can only really write in the evenings, when everything in the day is set aside. I know of people who get words in during their lunch break. There are also people who need to write in giant spurts, who wait until the weekend because they simply aren’t the person who can write “every day.” My quick advice for people who may have had a routine before the pandemic but jumped out of it — I suggest potentially trying something new with it. Your routine is yours to play with, and you may want to evolve it with the changing world. That said — please give yourself love and forgiveness. This is a hard time, and you may just need that break. That’s okay.
Otherwise — look at some inspirational writing routines to help you out if you need ideas. Then take the cannonball plunge to do what you have the artistic right to do and write.
DON’T JUST LET WRITING COME TO YOU
It’s easy to think that I didn’t write in 2020 because I had nothing to write about. I didn’t think of many article ideas, I didn’t work on any short stories or scribble down any novel ideas — it was all a blank slate up there for a time. And frankly, it was frustrating. All my life, I considered myself a “writer”, and I had all of these aspirations for what I wanted to accomplish — but I wasn’t getting anything done.
Now, it’s not like I couldn’t write at all or didn’t want to write — I just was overthinking the process of getting in front of the computer. Writing can be a chicken-or-the-egg situation. Was I not writing because I had nothing to write about, or did I not have anything to write because I wasn’t writing? One of my favorite quotes by A Wrinkle In Time author Margaret L’Engle sums this up perfectly: “Inspiration usually comes during work, rather than before it.” While ideas for writing certainly can come to you when you’re in the shower or, as I highly recommend for writers, on a walk, most of the time you’re going to focus on writing ideas when you write. The same goes for anything that puts you in a state of focus- you think about work when you’re in the office, the meal you’re making when you cook, the show you’re binging when you’re watching TV, and so on. This is what’s so helpful about routines to writers — they don’t just exist for writing, but to think about writing. Put yourself in positions to focus on writing, and it will happen.
If you need more inspiration and ideas to get words on paper, I recommend quickly going through these additional tips to fire your mind up.
SOCIALIZE — BUT IN A COVID-FRIENDLY WAY, OBVIOUSLY
Writing is a personal art. It’s easy to close yourself off to the world and have a large chunk of “me time” while you hack away at your novel with a cup of Earl Grey next to you. However, as a writer, you need people to edit your work, provide you feedback and advice, and hold you accountable to your goals.
I won’t be the millionth person to say, “but now with everything closed with the pandemic…” because we all know that we can’t just meet people and hang out at our old haunts to get writing done. Still, don’t use the pandemic as an excuse not to write with people. In fact, it may be the main thing holding you back from accomplishing what you want to do. This may be especially pertinent to those who were prolific before the pandemic but lost their mojo once they stopped meeting people as much.
I recommend finding online writing groups to at least give you a place to start. Finding people on social media, like Facebook groups for writers, will also help you. Also, check out nanowrimo.org, a nonprofit organization for writers to find a massive community base, training, and support.
OKAY, SO NOW WRITE
Things may have needed to be adjusted for the pandemic, but your love of writing never left you. Writing is already a struggle because it relies so much on willpower and spinning magic out of thin air in this solitary art. With the way things are going in the world, getting yourself out of the writing funk may be all the more challenging. You can get out of it, though. You can do it. So, write.