Creativity in the Time of COVID-19
I have fantastic news. Book number nine has been turned in and will be on its way to the copy editor soon. I can’t wait to share all the details. I’m not going to lie – getting across the finish line with this one was a challenge. I was about 75-80% done with the most recent draft of the manuscript when COVID hit. I had just reached my favorite place in the creative process because most of the truly heavy lifting was behind me and I was mostly focusing on fixing things that didn’t work and/or still needed another revision pass. I’m someone who writes a lot of drafts and the first two or three (or 7) are extremely messy. When I write a book, I use those early drafts to tell the story to myself. Once I have the story down, I start making the necessary revisions so I can tell it to you. I love knowing that each pass of the manuscript makes it stronger and I also enjoy knowing that I’ll be done soon and can move on to the next shiny idea that has already begun knocking on the door of my creative brain.
Like everyone, I was thrown by the news of an impending global pandemic. I spent way too much time in the early days of COVID – 19 doomscrolling on my laptop while simultaneously watching the news. When they closed my daughter’s school for the rest of the year, I knew we were about to experience an unprecedented event. Before COVID – 19, I worked all day in an empty, quiet house. Now, my house was a makeshift online school for my daughter. Focus and balance became an issue as I worried endlessly about my family members, many of whom I would not see in person for the next four months. Manuscript deadlines don’t care about viruses, so I buckled down and harnessed my creativity in fits and starts. I use the Pomodoro technique when I write. I set a timer for half an hour and I write until the timer goes off. It’s a forced warm-up, a way to block all the distractions so I can drill down and focus. Once the timer goes off on the first thirty-minute session, I’m lost in the story and will keep setting the timer until I’ve reached the end of my writing goal. It got to the point where I could only set the timer for 5 or 10 minutes. Anything more than that felt like too much to handle and would sometimes spark a two-hour doomscrolling procrastination session which only added to my anxiety, both about the state of the world and the work I wasn’t getting done. Sometimes it took three 10-minute sessions to find my groove, but I always found it. Progress was incredibly slow compared to what I’m used to, but I kept inching forward.
I’m also in the middle of selling my house and building a new place which was all set in motion last August way before any of us knew what was heading our way. The first sale of my house fell through in June and the second fell through in July. It has since sold a third time and my fingers are crossed that the September closing will actually happen. Meanwhile, we’ve squished ourselves into an apartment because the new place is behind schedule and isn’t finished being built. It’s been almost sixteen years since we’d last moved, and I’d forgotten how stressful it can be. If you’ve been wondering where I’ve been for the last six months, now you know.
I met my deadline and sent the manuscript off to my editor. When I received her message saying she had just turned the last page and loved it, I burst into tears like some crazy person. Guys, I was just DONE. But I was also proud of my accomplishment, and I felt the weight of so many things lift from my shoulders. I’m truly grateful to my publisher and especially my wonderful editor because I’ve felt very supported as I worked my way through this creative process during an unprecedented time. I know we’ll be on the other side of it someday and that better days are ahead. So, stay tuned to my social media. I’ll share all the details about my new book as soon as I have them. I can’t wait for you to see the cover, read the blurb, and add it to your TBR shelves. In the meantime, be kind, be safe, and be healthy.