Writing in the Time of Quarantine

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So, it’s been more than a week since I’ve stepped out of the apartment complex where I live. I’ve left the house a couple of times to run a few errands, and then washed my hands obsessively upon return, but indulged in nothing more adventurous than that.

And I can say it’s a strange feeling. Luckily my job allows me to work from home, so continuing work is not a problem. The kids are driving me and each other wild, and watching plenty of programs when they’re not trying to kill each other or me.

But it’s not all bad – we’ve taken to baking and whipping up delicacies in a big way! So far, we’ve made vanilla cake (with and without frosting), fried chicken, chocolate cake, and mug cake.

And when the cooking is done, I sit back down to writing…and the words refuse to come.

I don’t have writers block or anything, but pandemic block is more like it. Thoughts of the virus are crowding my mind, and every time I start or try to start a new piece, my mind strays to the offending germs and I land up checking social media for the latest count, which does nothing to assuage my fears.

To add to that, I rarely write dark stuff or thrillers, and the current atmosphere is more conducive to those inspired by dystopic scenarios like the situation we’re facing right now.

Usually when I find it tough to write, I resort to picking up administrative tasks, like finding markets for previously written stories, editing old essays and stories, preparing submissions to send out in batches, etc. Editing old work is one of the best things to do at this time, because it requires a lot more efforts than we think. It needs plenty of focus but not as much as is needed when writing a brand-new story, and it imparts a great sense of achievement when it’s done.

I’ve also recently come upon Beat Sheets! It’s an amazing discovery that I regret not learning earlier. Originally meant for screenplays, there are versions out there for novelists as well too! I am toying with the idea of writing a brand-new novel using the Beat Sheet method. It’s fun to do plotting and outlining at a time when the actual act of writing that requires a different kind of creative focus is just not happening due to anxiety.

That’s all I have this time. I hope to return to my regularly scheduled programming from next week, and until then you’ll find me praying for COVID-19 to vanish from our lives.

How are you handling self-isolation?

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