by , @ConnieBDowell
Here we are, month one billion (or at least it feels that way) into the COVID-19 pandemic. With recent hopeful news about a possible vaccine, there may finally be some light at the end of the tunnel, but even in the best-case scenario, it will be months before it’s widely distributed. We’re heading into a long winter. So, it’s no surprise if you’re feeling a less than enthusiastic about writing, about books, about life.
But for writers, the show—well, the story—must go on. Even if you don’t’ have hard deadlines forcing your hand, not making space for your creativity is only going to compound your stress. How do we cast aside the stress, worry, exhaustion, and additional tasks the pandemic has thrust upon us so we can live in our written worlds?
Nobody likes not meeting their goals. Why not make those goals a little smaller? Move a deadline if you can. Write shorter daily to-do lists. Less progress isn’t a failure. It’s still progress in the face of a very weird year! And some writing is way better than none. Celebrate the writing you can do. It doesn’t matter what could have been done in different circumstances. You’re doing the best you can in the world you have right now.
Tune out the World and Sprint Away
Getting started with a writing session is the hardest part, especially when you’re worried about rising COVID numbers, possible shutdowns, lack of childcare, and trying to make it all work. But if you’ve got some precious writing time, don’t waste it! That’s where sprinting can help. Put on some relaxing music if you can, set a timer for a short amount of time (even 10 minutes will do!) and force yourself to write until the timer dings. Try programs like Write or Die to give you more incentives to keep typing (or consequences when you stop). You might find yourself not wanting to leave your story world when the time is up.
Take Time to Chill
It’s easy to get wrapped up in the need to produce words while somehow balancing everything around us, but if you don’t take time to just be, you’ll burn out fast. Rest and relax, maybe with a cup of tea and a good book, maybe with a glass of wine and some Netflix. Schedule this time in if you must. You need to fill the creative well somehow.
Work in New Ways and Ask for Help
Longing for your peaceful Saturday morning writing sessions? You know, back when the kids were doing sports and you could sit for a few hours at your organized desk with your tea in your special mug, listening to your writing playlist? Those days may be gone, but writing doesn’t have to be. Instead of trying to cling to old routines, learn to work in new ways.
Can you try writing sprints to sneak in words during small stretches of quiet time? Can you try dictation while you watch the kids run around in the yard? It might take some time to learn how to work in these new ways, without your old writing rituals, but doing a little bit every day will help you build that muscle. And those little bits of writing do add up. Remember that some is better, more satisfying, more motivating, than none.
But adapting may also mean reaching out to others for help or hiring it out. Maybe you order a little more takeout. Maybe you ask a spouse to help around the house more and give you more time, and you should be prepared to do the same for them when they need it. A supported writer is a more motivated writer at the best of times. That’s even more true now.
Remember the Joy
You started writing for a reason. Don’t forget the sheer joy of letting your words bring the worlds in your head to life! It’s easy to get bogged down with stress or with challenges in the writing itself. But take time—I’d say at least once a week—to play with your writing. Try a writing prompt, the silliest one you can find, and just make words for the joy of it. We writers make ideas, plans, whole worlds, and imaginary people in our heads and then transfer them from our minds to the minds of our readers. Our words live and breathe in our shared imagination. That’s a miracle.
And it’s that joy that gets all of us, writers and readers, through the tough times. The world needs your words. Please, go out and write them.
Connie B. Dowell writes historical and modern cozy mystery and nonfiction while her two preschoolers climb all over her. She loves helping other writers through her podcast, editing services, consulting, and courses. When not working, she knits, paints, plays violin badly, and binge watches Midsomer Murders. Find out more and get in touch at
You can grab a free copy of Writing Without Childcare at
5 Ways to Maintain Writing Motivation Even During a Pandemic (by @ConnieBDowell):
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