You get a sense of what I’m going to say about writing during quarantine by looking at my title. When it comes to offering tips, I usually come up with a list of 3, 5, 7 or 10. Here I am offering one. That’s right. One measly tip.
In these past weeks and now coming weeks/months, clearly a new dynamic – that is, lack of dynamic – is operative.
Writing During Quarantine: Pre-Quarantine
I began the story I am currently writing, Money for Nothing, on December 5, 2019. It’s the second book in my Buy Me Love Shapeshifter Series. The title image shows you my writing log for all of December and a good part of January.
As you can see, I work messy.
You can also see the number of pages I produced on any given day. By the way, I always choose 1.5 for my line spacing format (approximately 400 words/page). In any case, here’s part of my pre-quarantine daily page tally:
24 December: pp 30, 31, 32
26 December: pp 35, 36, 37, 38, 39, 40, 41
28 December: pp 44, 45, 46, 47, 48, 49, 50
5 January: pp 65, 66, 67, 68
17 January: pp 78, 79, 80, 81
And so forth.
I’ve been logging the number of pages I write a day for many years (okay, decades). I also mark if there’s any kind of long-ish hiatus for some reason, and I usually note the reason. This practice helps me track my progress and keeps anxiety at bay.
Writing During Quarantine: My Tip
Here’s my writing log for April:
Looks very different from my pre-quarantine activity, no? On a separate page I have post-it notes indicating what I produced in the first half of April. Since my progress could fit on a couple of post-it notes, the answer to the question of how much I wrote is: Not much.
Now, here’s my tip:
Write one page a day, every day.
In fact, I am trying to write not more than one page a day, although on a couple of recent days I have written two. On April, 24, 25, and 26, I wrote zero. I helpfully noted for myself: “drowned laptop.” Yup. Spilled water across the keyboard. Didn’t notice it while I was getting ready in the morning. (Question: ready for what?) Returned to my desk and disaster. And, hence, no blog on Friday the 24th.
On April 14, 15 and 16 I very much spun my wheels.
I am not upset by the slow-down. I take my lowered production to be part of what I’m (not) doing now. I’m experiencing this period of social distancing/self-isolation as a kind of hibernation, a conservation of energy. One page a day. One tip in this blog.
I am not baking banana bread, making a sourdough starter or even eating a lot. In fact, I may be eating less, as one does in hibernation. But I’m not losing weight because my physical activity is so much less. And I am doing zoom yoga almost every day now. The activity and the community it provides are very grounding.
But just like doing yoga every day is keeping me sane, so is writing a page every day.
Do it. Write one page a day, every day.
See British medical journal The Lancet for a comprehensive overview of The psychological impact of quarantine,
See: All My Writing Tips
This post was written by Julie Tetel Andresen