Everything in the news is currently all COVID-19 all the time. Not surprisingly, the endless updates from various countries along with the knowledge that the U.S. is vastly under-testing only increases our anxiety.
So while it might seem that all the cancellations mean that we have more time for writing, all that anxiety can make it hard to focus on our writing. (Believe me, I know. *she says as she starts writing this post far too late to get a good night’s sleep*)
(Also, if you’re not already, please stay home as much as your job and life allow. If you have to go out, stay about 6-10 feet away from others and thoroughly wash your hands often. Learn how the more people practice social distancing, the better our health care systems can keep up. It’s safest to assume you already have it—and are just asymptomatic and contagious—and think about protecting others.)
Give Yourself a Break
I’ve seen countless social media posts with the idea of “Woo hoo! Now is when we can focus on all the projects we mean to do.” But as a much-circulated post pointed out, this is not a “bonus” snow day scenario.
This is a pandemic.
The medical community is telling us to prepare for someone we know dying. Our homes might be more chaotic with kids, significant others, or others in our space. And so on.
The news is worrying enough to fill us with anxiety, which can make it hard to write. What can we do? Click To TweetIf we’re full-time writers, those facts alone would make it hard to concentrate. Add in suddenly needing to juggle taking care of kids out of shut-down schools and having to maintain a house when shopping is tricky, and we’ll have less time to write.
If we write on the side around a day job, we might need to learn all new skills to do our day job at home, increasing the difficulty of our work. Add in the same issues as above with others in our home and the complications of trying to balance caution with living, and any free time is likely to be filled with more distractions.
In other words, if we feel motivated and focused enough to be creative, great! But if we don’t, we shouldn’t get down on ourselves. Feeling anxiety in this situation is normal, and not being able to focus or feel creative when anxious is normal too.
With all the anxiety that we might be feeling, we might an extra dose (or a hundred doses) of self-care. I’ve written before about what self-care for writers looks like, but let’s add some options to the list, given our current situation.
As writers, we often turn to books and stories for relaxation. If our local library has closed, many library systems offer ebooks. Or many authors have freebie ebooks available to keep us entertained.
However, even reading for pleasure might require more focus than we’re currently capable of. Sometimes we need to do something mindless or fun to let our brain’s worries fade. We might play games, scroll social media, do puzzles, etc.
Author Rebekah Weatherspoon shared a paint-by-numbers app called Dazzly that she found relaxing:
I’ve been doing these paint by number gem thingies in this app called Dazzly. It’s kinda helping. pic.twitter.com/XGpWvwWhkj
— Rebekah Weatherspoon (@RdotSpoon) March 14, 2020
Above all, it might help our anxiety to try to maintain a sense of humor. *smile*
Pro-tip for couples suddenly working from home together: Get yourselves an imaginary coworker to blame things on. In our apartment, Cheryl keeps leaving her dirty water cups all over the place and we really don’t know what to do about her.
— Molly Tolsky (@mollytolsky) March 16, 2020
Learn and Explore
Even if we’re not learning anything “important,” the thought of learning something valuable might help our stress:
- Explore the world’s museums with virtual tours and exhibits
- Explore Google Street View of architectural and historic sites (including some in 3D)
- Or check out online educational options, such as through Class Central or Open Culture:
Use Your Time in Isolation to Learn Everything You’ve Always Wanted To.
— Open Culture (@openculture) March 16, 2020
Find Resources of Fun or Interesting Things
- Attend a book-reading with an author:
ooh what if we do tiny (10 minute max) readings on twitter live? I would love to hear authors read their own work or readers share their favorite passages, we could tag them all #LivingRoomReadings or something https://t.co/MtvaS6wSKT
— Felicia “Ray” Davin (@FeliciaDavin) March 16, 2020
- Check out recordings of performances, such as through BroadwayHD (with a 7-day free trial). Here are 15 recommendations (and where you might be able to find them online).
- Or catch a new movie at home, such as Frozen 2, released to streaming 3 months early, or Universal’s plan to release movies to streaming and theaters concurrently.
- Check out videos or live cams from zoos and aquariums…
While Shedd Aquarium in Chicago is closed to the public, the staff is letting the penguins explore the building:
The adventure continues! 🐧🐧
This morning, Edward and Annie explored Shedd’s rotunda. They are a bonded pair of rockhopper penguins, which means they are together for nesting season. Springtime is nesting season for penguins at Shedd, and this year is no different! (1/3) 👇 pic.twitter.com/VdxN3oQAfe
— Shedd Aquarium (@shedd_aquarium) March 16, 2020
Yes we cam! We got you covered in these crazy times. While we’re closed to the public, you can still get your stress-reducing animal fix via our live cams. Watch penguins, baboons, koalas, giraffes, elephants and more 👉 https://t.co/DputHsHt5n pic.twitter.com/sTYk0srM5v
— San Diego Zoo (@sandiegozoo) March 17, 2020
Though @MontereyAq is closed, our webcams are still streaming. Until we reopen, you can check in on the sea otters, sway with the kelp forest, find tranquility with the jellies and look for wildlife out on Monterey Bay: https://t.co/51aaLE8flr pic.twitter.com/kK9VNj4z31
— Julie Packard (@juliepackard) March 14, 2020
Okay friends in isolation/quarantine, I am here for you with a THREAD of animal live cams:
— Dr. Margie Housley (@margiehousley) March 16, 2020
Try Various Options for Isolating with Kids
If we’re one of the many families suddenly at home with school-age kids, remember first that not every moment needs to be educational. A huge percentage of time that kids spend in school is taken up by learning to listen and follow directions and so on.
Each subject’s lesson is usually only 15-30 long, so feel free to fill time with edutainment, like with the links above. Or check out these suggestions, many from experienced homeschooling parents…
Dreading the thought of being quarantined at home with your family? I’ve created a new online learning program to hopefully help fix that anxiety. I call it the SANTAT ONLINE SURVIVAL SCHOOL FOR THE PANDEMIC
Earn Badges. Learn skills. Don’t panic!
Follow me here or on Instagram pic.twitter.com/fwh4megRmR
— Dan Santat 😷 (@dsantat) March 16, 2020
A thread about what to do with your littles wot are home from daycare/Head Start/preschool, so you and they do not claw each other’s faces off! (Please add comments and ideas, this is a group project.)
— Breanna Teintze (@BreannaTeintze) March 14, 2020
A thread of homeschool resources:
I tried to pick ones that were free, or have free options available. Many of them also have subscriptions.
If the resources are online, I tried to pick ones that could engage several kids of different ages at the same time or are short. (1/11)
— Sierra Pung (@sierrapung) March 14, 2020
Work with Your Abilities
These ideas are just the start. Please add your ideas or links to resources you’ve found in the comments!
All that said, if you find you’re motivated enough to write, let me share one tip for how I’ve kept up with my blog through my years of health issues and my recent house flood:
Give yourself deadlines.
Every week through all my trials, I’ve managed to still publish two blog posts a week without fail and on time. How? The weekly deadlines for my every Tuesday and Thursday posts. It’s amazing what we can do when we feel like we have to do it. *smile*
Whatever we’re capable of, whether that’s writing a book or just wallowing in the news, that’s okay. Whatever we do to make it through these times, whether that’s helping family, friends, and neighbors or streaming mindless entertainment to distract the kids, that’s okay too. These are not normal times.
It’s important to keep yourself safe and healthy, both medically and mentally. So if that means you sleep all day to avoid the news and take long walks outside with no one else around in the middle of the night, that’s cool too. You’ll find a way. All the best to you all, and may we all stay healthy! *hugs*
Do you have any insights into how to manage anxiety? Or how to write through anxiety and distractions? Do you have any suggestions or resources to add to this list? How are you managing through this crazy time? Do you have any questions for me?Pin It