Karina M. Sokulski
Writing Habits to Develop for the New Year
Let’s face it. Recovering from the impact of 2020 is going to take a while. No matter how steadfast we march forward into this new year, we can't seem to think about how much has changed. The pandemic has affected everyone to the point that “going back to normal” is a challenge. Or impossible if our schedules have forever changed. 2020 was the ultimate creativity-killing year that distracted everyone with round-the-clock, anxiety-driven news. Change is the big word of 2021 and not just regarding our eventual exit from quarantine. We’ve all had to make sacrifices and change the way we’ve done things. For the last year which can in in turn make rebuilding our new normal overwhelming. The good news is, there are many ways to make sure you don't leave your time to write behind.
Reorganize and Reclaim Your Writing Space
I can’t work with a cluttered space. I’m guilty of cluttering my workspace. I’ve been so stressed-out during quarantine that I’ve found my laundered socks next to my keyboard. More than once. As we experience the change 2021 will bring, take time to make sure your creative space is neat and tidy. It’s difficult to let creativity run wild when you're staring at the empty bag of pretzels on your desk.
When everything shut down, my husband was forced to stay home from work. When it was just me and the fur babies in the house, I could leave my office door open without interruption. When my husband was home for quarantine, I found myself being visited more often. Too often to focus. As we begin to go back to work, review what productive habits quarantine may have made impossible to keep to. Work on reclaiming your ability close the office door. Inform your loved ones you intend to reclaim your creative time and lock-in your privacy.
Reschedule and Adapt to Changing Work Hours
Whether you’re returning to your old schedule or starting a new one, find a way to fit writing sessions. Before the pandemic, I reserved all day Wednesday for the big writing sessions. Thursday was my critique group day and half of Friday was note-scribble day as the work week came to an end. Now, I set aside one hour a day of the work week to sit and write. Wednesday is now reserved for online creative classes, reading and outlining. Spreading out my writing in shorter increments has upped my creative production. If your schedule requires you to spread out your writing time across the week, schedule it. If your schedule requires you to reserve time on your days off. pick which ones.
Get Encouraged by Other Writers
Another way to get back into a better writing routine is to enlist help. You’re not the only writer coming out of 2020 who’s struggling with getting back to a routine. Especially that involves one where you still have time to write. There are plenty of organizations available online that are eager to help writers. NaNoWriMo’s website offers a free membership to online resources to help you write. I would suggest the NaNoWriMo forums for your first destination. Thousands of writers are struggling creatively after last year and have found inspiration in one another. Many writers via the NaNo forums are offering Zoom links to online write-ins. Subscribing to NaNoWrimo's newsletter is also a good idea since you'll receive an email every time a virtual write-in is available to join.
You may also find the opportunity in the NaNo forums to join a critique group. Critique groups are a great way to commit to a schedule that expects you to write and edit your work. Finding the right critique group may take a few tries, but once you choose the right one, you’ll find your rhythm. The key here is to surround yourself with writing. Place upon yourself the expectation to spend time on your creativity on a weekly basis.
As overwhelming as “returning to normal” sounds, I won’t let it stop me. Here are the following lessons we can all take from 2020: We’ve learned how resilient we can be, how patient we can be and how much we can care about something. The stress of missing out on my writing this year was agony. The excitement towards rebuilding my routine and going back to writing my novel thrills me. I’ve pocketed so many ideas that I’m ready to try. I’ve also joined a NaNo group that’s meeting Friday’s for a virtual write-in. 2021 is here and it’s time to reconfigure our writing schedules. Remember you’re not alone and there are plenty of ways to get back to writing. So, let’s clean off our desks, gather up our notes and get back to our creative work!