The Guilt of Not Writing During COVID-19 (and what you should be doing instead)

APR. 21, 2020

If you're like me quarantine has only heightened your guilt for not writing. I've been in a bit of a slump for awhile. The last half of 2019 I was very sick, then right as I had surgery to take care of the problem, BAM! COVID-19 happens and we're all feeling the anxiety of the unknown. Not to mention, I mainly write dystopian which just seems odd to jump into right now.

I want to remind you all that writing is about more then just putting words to paper. YES that IS 90% of it and you'll never have a novel until you JUST DO IT, but no one should be feeling guilty or left behind, especially right now.

So here's a few things you can do that will enhance your writing when you're ready to jump back in the boat:

Read. OK easy one first. Read everything - anything - truly. Reading helps us writers find what we like and don't like so we can imitate our skills in our unique ways to create stories we love. It'll help your imagination jump back into the game and if it's a GREAT book, it'll make you want to write. You can read fiction for a break or you can read craft books to help grow your knowledge. Either way, you don't lose.

Watch movies/tv. Binge watching mindless television isn't what I'm talking about (unless you really just need to zone out for a bit!). Choosing media that you are on the edge of your seat to watch? Now that is something to help you reflect. What are your favorite characters? Why? What's interesting about the plot? The genre? Etc? Different mediums can still elevate your imagination and your story development. So drink it in!

Take an online course. I know, the jokes are endless. From the massive amount of bombardment from Masterclass ads I'm sure you're rolling your eyes but I'm very serious. There are plenty of really great resources out there from all types of writers and in all price ranges. Plenty of my favorite authors are sharing their classes or classes they've taken and even my library is sharing courses that I can take for free! Here are a few free classes I found:

Draw. Even if you're not very good. Draw or color or paint. Just pick up another medium and let the creativity flow. It doesn't have to see the light of day but just thinking about creating and letting your imagination take shape will help in your writing. Your best ideas and solutions come when your mind is preoccupied. Let it drift and soon you'll see stories in the images and colors you're using.

Talk to friends, family and even strangers. Hop online, video or phone and call or chat with people! Ask them about their pasts - childhoods, romances, trips, etc. Ask questions like, "Who's the most unique person you've ever met?" and "Tell me the most magical thing you've witnessed". The World is full of stories and imagery. People love talking about themselves. They love to tell their own stories to someone who's listening. And while you're listening you can trap tiny tid-bits to use as story fodder later.

Dream. One of my favorite things to do when I'm not writing is dreaming. I love to think of elaborate stories and places I could be. I play them out over and over in my head like a movie, ironing them out bit by bit until a cohesive story comes together. I hardly ever write these down, mostly they're just for me. But every now and then I pull pieces or scenes and insert them into a story. I use my dreams to fuel my writing.

Follow your favorite authors on social media. Check on your favorites and see what they're doing. Watch their lives. Comment on their posts. Hell, DM them. Tell them you're struggling or how much you love their stuff. You may not get a response but sometimes just putting everything out there into the void to an ear that understands is enough. Sometimes the best thing you can do for your writing is to feel like you're not alone.

I hope these ideas help you get off the guilt. I know it's difficult but doing something is always better then letting your feelings overwhelm you. Let me know in the comments what you're doing to help your writing, besides you know, just writing!

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