Writing for some is an escape; for others it’s work. Either way, we do not write as a torture (though it may torture us) but instead as a vocation. Writing is our duty, our purpose, our drive; so how can one continue to write when society feels on the brink of collapse?
Facing a global crisis can be more than concerning—it can be outright terrifying. Anxiety and depression can quickly appear, adding to stress and a lack of motivation. One can become so removed from writing that one feels equal parts unable to focus on it and guilty for abandoning it.
How, then, can we carry on?
Here are five thoughts which, from past experience, may prove to be very useful.
1. Follow government guidance
Being told to distance oneself socially means exactly that. You don’t have to be permanently isolated; you can go to the shops for essentials, or head out for a daily bit of exercise, as long as you keep the required distance and are responsible. Whatever you have been told to do, do it. That should take some stress away as you will have lowered your risk factors.
2. Stop watching or reading the news
This may sound counter-intuitive, as in times of panic what you want to do is find out what is going on, but having minute-by-minute updates on everything and reading endless reports and opinion pieces will just escalate your anxiety levels astronomically. Check once a day at a set time for a quick catch-up, and go to a trusted source—I suggest the BBC or a national newspaper. Once you know what has happened in the last 24 hours, most importantly in relation to how it affects you and those you know, you can return to getting on with life.
3. Get off social media
Social media is designed to be addictive. It sucks you in and warps your sense of reality. Get off it. Leave it alone. Delete the apps. Send messages and texts and so on to stay in contact with people, sure, but stop the endless scrolling! Seeing all that is the opposite of what you need. Get out of the bubble, silence the echo chamber, and step away from the horrors. Looking after yourself includes your mental state, even if you are in isolation—especially so.
4. Build a routine
You need to write, yes, but you also need to do other things. Set up times for everything you do. Think about exercise, cleaning, cooking, work, relaxing, and social time (even online). Just like healthy eating requires you to have a balanced diet, so does healthy living.
5. Choose your stance
Are you going to document what is happening, or are you going to write about something completely different? You can do one or the other, but be thoughtful in your approach. Don’t do the obvious. Don’t obsess. Ideally, go off track and write from a place no one else has considered, or no one will.
I hope these points help you stay focused. It’s amazing how much a little practicality can alter your mindset so you can be mentally active and positive, as well as keep you writing.
© 2020 J A DuMairier
Available under the Thanet Writers Education Policy
Originally from Thanet, J A DuMairier enjoys writing and long walks in the country.