John Briggs Books

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WRITING IN QUARANTINE IS HARDER THAN IT SOUNDS

Need a little motivation to write during this forced down time? Read on.

Does this sound like you? “I’m stuck at home for two weeks! I’ll get my novel done in no time!”

Then, in true procrastinating form, you discover that Netflix is calling, cat videos are amusing, and the news is overwhelming,

Or, from a practical standpoint…how is homeschooling this hard, why can’t my spouse do that himself, and who is making this much laundry?!!!

I have a confession…despite being a full-time writer and editor since 2012, I used to find it hard to write when I was home alone.It was much easier when I had a day job, believe it or not. That was because after a full day  at work, a long commute and errands to run, when I got home, I knew it was time to write. If I didn’t do it then, I’d never do it. Maybe it was only an hour, maybe half an hour, but I jumped on it.

When my day was my own? Well, there was always later. Why start now when I had nothing to do the next hour either? And it stayed that way until…

I had certain realizations.

Ways to Motivate Yourself to Write in Quarantine

  1. You might have more hours in a day, but your time is running out. Sure, the quarantine will end someday, and hopefully someday soon, but will you really start writing then or just slip back into your old routine? And remember, the quarantine isn’t the only thing coming to end. You may have more hours, but you have fewer years. Write while you can. Write before your time really does runs out.
  2. If I’m not dedicated to writing, why am I doing it? If I can’t convince myself to do what I love, why do it at all? Do I really love TV more than books? No. Dedicate yourself to this. After all, here’s a sobering reality: prisoners have been so committed to writing that they’ve written entire books on rolls of toilet paper. The least I can do is sit at my computer
  3. The Internet isn’t going anywhere. If I tell myself there’s always the next hour to write, the same is true of the Internet. It will still be there sixty minutes from now. For that matter, so will the laundry and the dishes. Write now.
  4. Don’t call it work. It’s tough to sit down and say, “I’m going to work.” When I realized how much I love writing and miss it when I’m not doing it, it got a whole lot easier. It was no longer work; it was play. And wouldn’t you rather play? (I still tell my family, “I’m going to work” that way they take it seriously, but I know the truth.)
  5. Write for art, not profit. It’s hard to motivate yourself to write when you realize the chances of you getting rich or cranking out a bestseller are slim, so tell yourself you’re making art. Businessmen are often vilified, but artists are beloved. Be one of them. Making art means writing for yourself. Consider writing (and creating art) a way to pamper yourself.
  6. Not really alone when I’m with words. People complain that they can’t take the isolation, but I’m never alone while writing. Whether it’s turning characters into real people or putting information on the page, I’m communicating with someone. Characters. Future readers. People I may never know. What I do know is that when I’m writing, I’m never alone.

For years I’ve said, “Writing is a solitary game; editing is a team sport.” Under this quarantine, that solitary game is playing golf without a caddy. You’re lugging the bags and doing the heavy lifting, but you’re still getting to swing the clubs and sink the putt. In other words, you take the good with the bad. Isolation affords you some time to write — if you take advantage of it.

So, yes, writing in quarantine is harder than it sounds (even if your friends and family don’t believe you), but trust me, failing to accomplish your goals – finishing that book, being published like you’ve always dreamed – feels worse than you might think, too. I hope that bleak expression inspires you to put pen to paper or fingers to keyboard. Find that quiet spot and bang out a thousand words today and tomorrow and the next day because eventually this quarantine will end, and then you’ll miss all that time you had to write.

Good luck! (And let me know how you make out in the comments. I hope you finish that book!)

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This entry was posted on March 21, 2020 by in Writing and tagged , , .

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