Before lockdown, writers who had other jobs struggled to find the time to write. Now, many of those who are off work may still be struggling, but for different reasons. There is more time, but it’s harder to concentrate. So, if you no longer have to go to work, or even if you do, how can you make the most of whatever time you have spare each day?
Stop trying to write for a while
If you need inspiration, sitting in front of your laptop and staring at a blank screen is unlikely to provide that. There may be times when you have to sit there for a while as you wait for your brain to cooperate, yet you need to give yourself something to work with.
Lockdown can limit where we get our inspiration from. If you go online, everyone is talking about the same thing. That might explain why so many writers have written something inspired by the pandemic and the lockdown. That’s fine, it makes a great outlet and can help you to process and cope with everything. I’m even publishing some of my lockdown poems, but that doesn’t mean people will want to read them.
You’ll want to write something else eventually. So talk to friends and family, even if it’s just on the phone or over Zoom. Watch your favourite TV show or discover a new one. Go for a walk, if you don’t have any health conditions that put you in the at-risk group. Read a book or listen to a song. Inspiration can come from something a friend says to you, a line in song or song, something you see outside or something in TV show. That doesn’t mean you should plagiarise someone else’s work. Just use the idea as a starting point and turn it into something completely different.
Should I change my work in progress to include the pandemic?
This is a question I’ve seen people ask and some writers have stopped what they were writing, or feel like they have to go back and rewrite it to include recent events. Obviously, what you write is up to you. However, reading is a form of escapism, so many people won’t want to read a fictionalised version of what is happening right now. Another thing to consider is how much time it takes to write, edit and publish. For me, if I continue with any of the novels I’ve already started on, it could take between six and eight months to complete and publish one of them, longer if I try to get a publisher instead of self-publishing it myself. I’m not saying life will be like it was by then, but I hope things will be better than they are now. Also, it’s fiction, so it doesn’t have to guess the future. You can create your own fictional future and provide an escape for yourself while writing it, which may help you to write the world the way you want it to be.
I’ve attended some online workshops. If you join writing groups on social media and ask around, you should be able to find some.
I’ve not written anything I can submit to publishers or journals from this, but it has helped to keep me writing, and I’ve been inspired by the other writers. If nothing else, you get to (virtually) meet with other writers. I’ve found it more of a social experience than the virtual spoken word nights I’ve attended.
Still finding it difficult?
Writing anything might seem difficult at the moment, but take it in bite-size sessions. Start with half an hour a day, or even ten minutes if that’s too much. Write whatever comes to mind. It might be nonsense, but just set a timer and write until you’re out of time, Read through it later. Looks for a line, or a few words that could inspire to write something. Then use that to create a poem or the beginning of a short story. You can even use dreams to get ideas for a poem or story. If you keep a notebook by your bed, you can jot down any dreams you have and use those as inspiration. Many people are having bizarre dreams at the moment. In another blog post, I’ll be sharing a short story I wrote, inspired by one of my bizarre dreams.