Survival mode makes it difficult for us to focus on writing.
Writing during a pandemic, is difficult. Living in survival mode for any length of time, changes the way society thinks. We stop looking to the future, we end up focussing on getting through, one day at a time.
I was fortunate enough to live in Belfast, Northern Ireland in 2005 – 2006. The people of Northern Ireland were coming out of decades of terror and civil unrest. As was my custom, when I said goodnight to my co-workers, I always said, “see you tomorrow.” They didn’t. Their response, everyone’s farewell, was either: “Lord willing” or “all being well, I will see you tomorrow.” There was never an assumption that you or your friends would all be alive the next day. Every good-bye could very well be the last.
After almost four decades of living under that kind of survival mode, that kind of uncertainty, it takes a toll on the system.
Most of us haven’t been in that kind of survival mode for as long as the people in Northern Ireland, but thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic and all of the political shenanigans, we are in survival mode none-the-less.
That means we’ve been turning our focus inward. To only that which we need: a roof over our head, physical safety, and food on the table.
That also means many of us have stopped writing because we don’t see it as a necessity to survival, we don’t have the energy to create when we are bombarded with doom and plague on the news and in our social media feeds. Because the world is falling apart around us, being creative and telling stories we start to believe that writing is a waste of time.
Writing is a Necessity to our Survival
In this blog post. I’m going to discuss exactly why writing and creativity is necessary, not just to your own survival, but of society at large. And can even be what makes our world a better place when we come out of this pandemic.
More importantly. I’m going to give you a few tips on how to get back to writing in spite of the exhaustion and social upheaval pulling at you.
There are two significant external factors we are all dealing with right now. The first is the COVID-I 9 pandemic which has caused financial hardship, grief, isolation, loneliness, and endless worry.
While some are able to take advantage of the situation and be creative and improve their diet and physical health, for many, any activity beyond what is necessary, is impossible to sustain for any length of tire, if it can be done at all.
The second factor is the social upheaval of the Black Lives Matters protests. The call, the demand, for racial justice is necessary and long-overdue. For many writers, who tend to be empathetic and keen for social justice, there is a strong pull to join the protests, to set step into activism, which often means leaving their writing behind.
Let writing amplify your voice, and thereby be a part of your activism.
At the same time, allow your writing time to be a time to relieve your stress and anxiety.
We all turn to fiction and stories to help us through difficult times.
Think back to March, when everything shut down. I know it feels like forever ago! We all watched everything Netflix had to offer, and authors and celebrities jumped online with Iive weekly readings.
People found comfort, escape, and an anchor in a time of massive upheaval and chaos.
We know that people turn to fiction to help them. It doesn’t have to be a pandemic or social upheaval. It can be getting through chemo or grief or the long sleepless nights of being a new mom. The greatest compliment an author can ever receive is when a reader tells the how their book got them through a difficult time.
Writing can provide writers the same comfort, escape, and anchor.
When we allow ourselves to sink into our story, we step away from our reality and we can focus on something other than our worries.
Even if it is only for a few minutes a day.
Having that mental relief helps us cope with whatever comes our way.
And let’s not forget, writing can be our way of exploring ideas that are different to ours, exploring our emotions, and help us to understand ourselves and the world around us.
When we use our writing for that exploration and searching and understanding, those stories have the greatest impact on our lives and the lives of our readers. It can also have a powerful impact on our world.
Think of Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale. It has become a massive symbol of what our future society will be if we don’t resist. Women, protesters, were dressing up as Handmaid’s in protests.
It is very easy to say you should sink into your fictional world, to explore. When we’re exhausted and stressed, and anxious, writing is the last thing we want to do, even when we know how much it can help us. We’re in survival mode, too focused on getting what we need to survive.
Think of taking a few minutes a day to write as something you need for your survival. You don’t have to write the next award-winning novel. You don’t have to write a perfect draft. You don’t have to write fiction at all. If you find journaling is what you need, do it. Outline. Plan your next book. Write some fan fiction. Write some silly scenes to writing prompts. Write something just for yourself.
Just a few minutes a day. Or once a week.
It is easier to get the motivation to write if you know:
- Why you started writing in the first place;
- Why you’re writing the story you’re writing now;
- What you want to get out of the experience of writing, both professionally, and personally;
- How today’s writing session is going to help you emotionally;
- How writing this story is going to help you get to where you want to be, professionally, and personally; and
- What, in writing this story, will give you comfort, escape, and an anchor.
Download Your FREE Guide
When you know that, you will see that writing is necessary to your survival and can make a positive impact in the world.
To help you with the above, I’ve created a FREE Motivation Guide for you to download. Fill it out, print it out, and keep it next to you as you write.
Until next time,
P.S. For more writing motivation tips, check out the following: