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  • Karina M. Sokulski

The Pandemic on Your Writing


Well, this title speaks for itself doesn’t it? The Corona virus continues to keep the world in a global lockdown and 2020 continues to deliver bad news. It’s a scary time anywhere in the world but recently we’ve had yet another crisis here in the United States. If you're like me, you've turned off the news and blocked social media because you can't take on any more stress. And yet, even with these countermeasures in place you can't write. I’ve seen plenty of other writers on community pages asking one another if they’re the only ones struggling. Safe to say, if the pandemic and alarming news of 2020 has affected your productivity then you’re not alone.

Missing a newsletter or two is what I have to show with my attempts to cope with quarantine and it feels...well it sucks. Only until the start of June had my creative well run dry. I thought I was doing enough to maintain productivity and yet I find myself frequently leave my desk. At first, quarantine sounded great for one’s writing schedule. Now there will be nothing but time to sit down at the keyboard and write all we can! Only now summer’s started and my inspiration to write has flatlined.

The solution to writing is to write. No matter who you ask, there’s always someone who tells you this. Writing is the answer to get writing done. Great answer but it's frustrating to hear because anxiety to write is what's holding you back. In times of productivity-crisis, the solution I find most effective is to revaluate your writing process. Since this global pandemic has us stuck at home, it's the best time to assess what tools you have at your disposal. These tools could involve podcasts or magazine's you've been too busy to get to until now. If you’re like me and have collected a mini library of reference books on writing, now’s the time to pop one open. The suggestions are endless, but I’ve listed a few below that may help get you out of your latest slump.


1) Writing Podcasts

Writing podcasts are a great place to start with advice for every writer. If you're not used to listening to podcasts, don't feel intimidated by the opportunity. Writing podcasts range in length from fifteen-minute episodes to an hour or more. Two podcasts I enjoy stand on the opposite ends of this range. Writing Excuses is a good example of the former whose episodes are always fifteen minutes long with a writing exercise provided at the end.

The other example being the Write-Minded podcast whose episodes can last up to thirty-five minutes or longer. Each episode of either podcast focus on the topic of the episode and explores the techniques as seen in published works. The hosts demonstrate how the listeners can best put the techniques to work in their own writing. There are hundreds of writing podcasts out there to choose from but thankfully it’s rare to find podcasts that cost money to listen to. If you’re looking for any specific writing podcasts, I guarantee they have a website where they make their episodes available.


2) Writing Channels

During the start of the pandemic, a large wave of writing channels have appeared on Youtube lately. This probably won’t come as a surprise since NaNoWriMo has had its Youtube channel since 2012. As a result of this, many writers have started looking to Youtube as a writing resource. Of course, I’ve subscribed to NaNoWriMo’s Youtube channel and if you haven’t yet, you should. There are plenty of channels to choose from but if you're looking for recommendations, I have a few of my own. I’ve subscribed to Campfire Technology’s channel both because I own their cataloguing software and because I get a lot out of their videos. Savage Books is another channel I’ve recently discovered for its comprehensive analysis of writing in popular media. I love all three of these channels because they offer virtual write-ins, discussions on craft and analysis on writing in popular media. Their videos are great to watch when you’re stuck or feeling uninspired. Sometimes reviewing the basics or learning something new can be what you need to get out of a slump. Virtual write-ins are also a great way to connect with other writers while social distancing.


3) Books on Writing

Mentioned earlier and always relevant, books on writing are usually a go-to tool for a writer’s library. Quarantine’s a great time to explore that collection you’ve accumulated over the years and put your current skills to the test. Or is it time to purchase a new book on writing? Many of these writing “how to’s” will come with exercises for you to give their topics a try. Once upon a time it a person could learn to build a computer from the books at their local library. A person can also learn to write a book from their library, local or at home. As a writer, you are your best teacher. It is up to you to equip yourself with facets of knowledge that will further your writing. Whether that facet is a critique group, a creative writing class or books on writing, you’ll have to gather your own tools. A great place to start is the reference section in any bookstore or library to find such books. For recommendations on books on writing, read my previous blog post here: {X}.


4) Read, Read, Read

Nothing inspires me more to write than reading something that inspires me to. Straight forward, right? Reading inspiring work will always flex your creative muscle. For that reason, you should allow yourself to abandon writing that doesn’t inspire you. It’s far better to abandon a book that isn’t fueling your creativity than slowing down your writing process. Reading’s a great escape when being stuck and can sometimes offer up a solution in the process. Exposing yourself to good writing or escaping your own head for a bit can do wonders for changing your perspective.


5) Let Your Writing Talk Back

I can’t stress enough how writing with a recorder has helped me get more done. There are plenty of affordable voice-to-text recorders out there to choose from. The largest benefit to writing with a recorder is the ability to silence your inner critic. It also helps to have an opportunity to sit down and listen to your own writing. How’s your grammar sounding? Does your inner voice match what’s actually on the page? What if the computer (or your recorder) read back to you what you’re stuck on? What if listening to your problem out loud solved it? Plenty of times, listening to what I wrote helped me identify what my problem was. I have yet another blog post on the topic to check out if you’re interested in writing with a recorder: {X}.


6) Internet Off, Cellphone Away

Another tip that’s painfully obvious but admit it, you’ve been ensnared by the social media trap since your work schedule and space drastically changed. It’s difficult to adjust to working from home while social media’s pelting you with constant reminders that the world’s the wrong kind of crazy right now. As tempting as the internet is, it is essential to your writing to not let yourself get distracted. Luckily there are apps (both free and affordable) that can help you get your work done. Silence your cellphone and leave it in another room during your writing time. A habit, I personally understand, has been difficult to stick to as of late. Arranging a strict routine that locks down distractions will establish effective habit-forming behaviors. For suggestions on these focus apps, check out my other blog post on the topic here: {X}.


7) Clutter-Free Productivity

There’s nothing more distracting than a cluttered workspace. It starts out as a subconscious bother until it becomes conscious enough for you to notice. A cluttered desk and messy at home office are automatic stressors. Take a look around at your workspace. Are there papers strewn about everywhere? Mail from a month ago still sitting on your desk? If so, take an evening after work to straighten up. There’s nothing more stressful to me than having an overly cluttered workspace. There’s also nothing more energizing than a clean workspace that boasts how organized I am.


The list could go on, but I’d prefer to use the remainder of this blog post to help however I can. It’s no secret the world outside our doors is a frightening one right now. There's no clear sign of when we can expect normalcy and much needed change. Below I’ve included links to where you can get involved in whatever way you can. I encourage us all to use this time to invest in ourselves, our writing and educating ourselves in the coming days.

To get involved and offer support, I've included links to help with COVID-19 relief and campaigns against police brutality in the United States. If you, or someone you know, is in need of help with mental health and reaching out, I've also included links to get professional help online. #BlackLivesMatter #BlackTransgenderLivesMatter #SlowTheSpread #MentalHealth #EndChildAbuse


Official George Floyd Memorial Fund


Campaign Zero


The Okra Project

Convoy of Hope


International Rescue Committee


Partners in Health

Anxiety and Depression Association of America


Prevent Child Abuse America


Texas State of Mind

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