February 1, 2020, I turned in Obsession, a 97,000-word novel that will release on February 2, 2021. It was such a relief to get that done that I took a month off to relax. Looking back, it seemed like only a couple of days. I did work on the timeline for the next book and caught up on everything I was behind on. Working eight to ten hours a day on a manuscript doesn’t leave a lot of time for anything else.
Since October of 2009 I have kept a daily journal. On February 11, 2020, my entry was: Please stop the Corona Virus. It was the first time I realized this virus might be more than just the flu. Less than a month later, I attended my last Byhalia Christian Writer’s meeting until no telling when, but at least for 2020…only I didn’t know it would be the last. That same day I attended the wedding of a friend. It was the last time I attended a gathering like that, as well. That same week, our non-profit shut the office down and let everyone work from home. We had entered a new world. Sheltering-in became a buzz-word.
I’ve known some writers who were able to write like crazy, writing more than they ever had. And then there were others like me who couldn’t string ten words together. As the virus spread in the United States, I simply could not focus on creating stories. April, May, June, and well into July…I simply couldn’t write. It wasn’t that there were a lot of cases in my county. In fact, I don’t believe we had a hundred cases until late July. And it wasn’t the virus itself so much as that everything was so unsettled. Every day it was like waiting for the other shoe to drop.
At some point in June, I stopped watching the news. And that helped. Finally, in mid-July I wrote 500 words. I was accustomed to writing 2500 words a day. My book was due November 2, 2020, and 500 words a day wasn’t going to get it. But when the story won’t come to you and when your characters won’t talk to you, what do you do?
For me, I prayed a lot, and trusted that since God called me to write, He would enable me. Every day I sat down at my computer, expecting to write something. By the end of July, I was writing 1200 to 1500 words a day. It would be some time before I’d hit the 2500 mark.
Some takeaway from this year:
· There will be times when you simply cannot write. Walk away from the computer and rest your mind. Then get back in the game. At times I would challenge myself to write for five minutes. Anyone can write for that length of time. Most of the time when the five minutes was up, I kept writing.
· Pray for God’s guidance and endurance, then discipline yourself to sit at the computer and write something, even if it’s nothing more than a grocery list.
· Work on edits or marketing. Those two tasks take a different mindset than creating and are tasks I can do when I’m not able to create. Working on writing related tasks usually sparks my imagination and gets my creative juices flowing.
· Take care of yourself. Eat healthy foods and exercise. My in-person Pilates class became Zoom Pilates—it’s important to stay connected to people and technology like Zoom and Facetime help.
· Realize you’re not the only person who is not able to create in these difficult times.
· Stay connected with your writing friends. Iron sharpens iron, and other writers will encourage and challenge you.
· Don’t give up. This too will pass.
· Remember to be thankful in all situations.
We are resilient people. It will soon be 2021 and 2020 will be in our rearview mirror. Will everything magically return to normal? Of course not, but hopefully, we will have a better new normal that what our normal is now.
That last sentence is so indicative of 2020!