Written by A Guest Author March 26th, 2020

Tips for Being a Writer During the Health Crisis

By Brandie June

I won’t lie, the world is a bit of a scary place right now. Anytime I turn on the news or go to the store, I’m reminded that there is a big health crisis that we all have to deal with right now, and it means a lot of changes.

Over just a few weeks, I went from living normally to social distancing to going on lockdown; only leaving the house for food and supplies. That’s a lot to deal with. But despite it all, we remain writers.

Right now, we have to adjust to how we can be writers during these challenging times. Here’s a few tips on being a writer during this ordeal.

1. Set Realistic Writing Goals

What is a realistic writing goal? Well, that depends on you and your new situation. Maybe you find yourself with a lot more free time, nowhere to go, and desperately need a creative outlet. This might be the perfect time to set some challenging writing goals. Up your daily word count and write that story that’s been bouncing around in your head. Edit that novel. Submit to writing contests. Focusing on a constructive, creative goal is great way to combat the anxiety of being shut inside.

But also don’t beat yourself up if you are not in a place to increase your writing goals. This may be a time you need to lower your expectations for what you can achieve right now, and that is perfectly normal. When I started working from home last week, I expected to be writing a lot more, since I was cutting out my commute time. Instead, I found myself waking up in the middle of the night and dealing with severe anxiety. The result was that I was too exhausted to even spend the amount of time I usually spent writing. I needed to let myself sleep more and focus on my health. And there are a lot of changes most of us are dealing with. Maybe your kids are now home all the time or you cannot focus the way you normally could. Now is a time to be gentle with ourselves and put our mental and physical health first. Remember, there is no expiration date on your writing. If you write just a little or even put your project on hold, it will be there for you when you are ready to get back to it.

2. Create A Virtual Writing Group

On Wednesday nights I used to meet with writing friends at a local café and have a writing group. We would discuss projects and spend time catching up and writing. It provided me with accountability and a supportive community. However, we are now in lockdown mode in Los Angeles, which means no going out with friends. So, my writing group went virtual. Last Wednesday we had our first meeting via Zoom. It was wonderful to see friendly faces and know that we still supported each other, even if we can’t meet face to face. We have been exchanging stories to critique via email, and will probably set up some word sprints in the near future. Bonus, if you are looking to create a virtual writing group, it doesn’t matter if your writing friends live close by or several hundred miles away.

3. Read

I’ve met a fair number of agents, editors, and publishers at writing conferences over the years. Every one of them suggests that writers read. Read books in your genre. Read books outside your genre. Read books for research for your next book and read books about the craft of writing. If you find yourself going stir crazy at home, maybe now is a great time to pick up a book that’s been on your to-read list. And while a lot of libraries are closed, many of their digital offerings are open, still giving you access to thousands of ebooks and audiobooks.

4. Explore Online Classes

All the learning of class without having to put on pants! I purchased a subscription to MasterClass last December, but kept pushing off starting one of the courses because I was too busy. You can bet that I’m going to buckle down now and explore all the classes they have on offer. I am especially excited about Neil Gaiman teaching storytelling. Even a quick search let me know that there are a ton of other writing classes there taught by experts like Joyce Carol Oates and Dan Brown. And if your budget is especially tight, check out if your library is offering digital classes. I have also seen experts doing virtual seminars on their social media channels.

5. Practice Self-Care

Now, more than ever, it’s important for us to take care of ourselves. Sometimes that means writing, but it also means a wide variety of things that are important for our mental and physical wellbeing. If we do things to help manage our stress, it frees up more mental space for writing. Try to get in some physical activity. The first few days I was on lockdown, I never left my computer. I felt miserable. I started taking breaks to go on short walks and streamed workout videos that I could do in my living room. It made a world of difference. For mental health, spending a few minutes meditating or doing something relaxing, like taking a bath, can help to center you. Give yourself treats to look forward to. Maybe Friday will be the night you order takeout from your favorite restaurant and rent a movie. Or maybe it’s the night you virtually have a happy hour with some friends.

Yes, the world can be a scary place. And being in isolation can make writing harder instead of easier. But there are still ways to take care of yourself and nurture your craft. So good luck out there, stay safe, and keep telling your stories.

Bio: Brandie June has an M.B.A. from UCLA and finds having a marketer’s perspective extremely helpful with her work marketing films and her role as an author and playwright. She has written several stories for anthologies and her novel is on submission. Brandie has spoken at writing conferences throughout Southern California. You can visit her website at www.brandiejune.com or connect with her on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/TheOriginalBrandieJune/.


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