Writing Is Hard Work

Musings of a Hard Working Writer...

  • Roger Colby

How a Writer Beats the Coronavirus Blues

If we turn on the news today or just ride around in a car listening to the radio, it’s not long before we hear another report of deaths or another statistic that takes the wind out of our sails.

It is important more than ever to social distance, wash our hands, and generally take care of our loved ones who are immunocompromised. However, one of the worst problems for this writer is being down in the dumps about this virus and what it’s done to my life. The truth is, I haven’t written anything in a while.

I tried doing a daily post about works that inspire writing, but that fell flat pretty quick as I was working to take care of my mother who is elderly and suffers from congestive heart failure. She’s fine otherwise, just staying home with her little dog Chester, watching Netflix shows and eating snacks, but I’m finding it harder and harder to keep her there. She went to church last Sunday and wore a mask and took wet wipes. I’m praying she didn’t contract the virus and that has really bummed me out, too. She says not to worry, to put our faith in God (and I am) but I also am not going to go run off a cliff and hope He’ll catch me.

God gave us a brain, after all.

In this daily horror show, a scenario much like that of Stephen King’s “The Stand”, we see both extremes of human behavior. I mean, people are showing up at state capitols toting automatic weapons, for crying out loud. The flip side of this is that people like John Krasinski is trying to keep us positive by airing Some Good News from his home every Monday.

As a creative, someone who is hyper-sensitive to emotional cues, I am bombarded with this so much that I am overwhelmed. Sitting down to write about it is at once therapeutic and also necessary. I’ve decided to do a few things to get me through it, and also to help me actually get back to writing:

  1. Stop Watching Skewed News – There is a tendency to watch the news every day, just like it was during 9/11, and this can be damaging. You can spend a lot of time just perusing news services and many of them are biased to the left or right. Ad Fontes Media has put together a very accurate interactive media bias chart to see where a news service falls on the scale of bias. According to their research, the Associate Press is probably the most reliable, so I’ve downloaded their app and just look at current news stories once in the morning and then I QUIT. One can spend all day watching talking heads during this crisis. It doesn’t help, and none of them really say anything new. Mostly it’s just pundits theorizing about possible future events. It wastes valuable writing time.

  2. Stop Streaming Stuff – There is a temptation during this crisis to just veg out in front of your television streaming all kinds of shows. Sure, you could catch up on Tiger King, but really what does it add to your life? It adds nothing to your own writing goals except staring at a screen and letting them create for you. The same goes for playing video games as I have explored Tamriel now for probably a week straight. I have YouTube TV, Disney+, Netflix, Hulu and Amazon Prime. There’s always something to stream. I have to limit my viewing of anything until after I’ve written SOMETHING for the day. If I don’t, I could find myself going down the digital rabbit hole for hours.

  3. Exercise – In December I moved into a house in a southern suburb of Norman, Oklahoma. The benefit of living here is that I have a nice mountain bike and tons of bike routes to ride. Yesterday I took a 12 mile trip through town, snaking around secret biking trails that run through neighborhoods. During that time I was able to clear my head and really think about my WIP and hash out some of the plot problems I’ve been experiencing. Not only that, sitting in front of a TV or a computer for long periods of time is not healthy. From blue screen damage to the eyes to the bad habits of eating junk food the dangers are massive. Exercise will clear your head, get the endorphins flowing, and help you take care of that wonderful brain from which all the creativity flows.

  4. Schedule Writing Time and Goals – I have to schedule about two hours in the morning for writing. This blog is where I’m using up some of that time, and I plan to work on my WIP after I finish typing this thing up. The point is that we have to schedule writing time during a period when we’re not working on other things. The only reason I’m doing this in the morning is because I’m a teacher who is currently doing distance learning with students, my kids are teens who don’t get up until later in the morning, and mornings are the quietest time of the day. I can drink a cup of coffee, turn on a bit of movie soundtrack, and get to work. I usually set a goal of 1000 words a day, but today I’m going to set a goal of just plotting out my WIP and going back through David Trottier’s “The Screenwriter’s Bible” to familiarize myself again with his method and align my WIP to that method. You pick whatever it is you need to accomplish day by day, taking baby steps, and soon you will have a daily routine to completing your own WIP.

  5. Stay Positive – As someone who suffers from depression, it is very easy for me to wane negative. I have a lovely wife who tries to keep me grounded, but often when I’m alone I have horrible thoughts and worries. It is a faith struggle with me as well. I have my own regimen (scripture, prayer, journaling) that help me cope with the negativity that wants to ruin my day. You might be one of those bubbly positive sparks in the world, but I am a wet blanket by nature. I’ve had to fight this my whole life. I stay positive by writing, as it is a natural medium to vent my heart to the world. Writing allows me to get out all the negativity and angst I’m feeling in a therapeutic way. It doesn’t mean I write depressing stuff. Most of my stuff is full of snide humor and is adventure-driven. The point here is to make sure you keep a good attitude through this pandemic.

I hope these tips were helpful. I’m off to try to meet my daily goals right now. If you have any other ways you beat the coronavirus doldrums then write a comment below.

Happy writing!

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