How to Deal with Writer’s Block in a Pandemic
I think we can all agree, this pandemic has left many of us well…not in the best frame of mind.
If we’re not worried about COVID19, we’re worried about our family and friends contracting it, our finances, the works. So when it comes down to work productivity, it’s not uncommon that many of us feel like we just can’t do anything.
I’ve been feeling like this since March. So much to think about and I want to write enough to fill a novel, but can’t. Or rather, not as quickly as I want to, and coming from a self-confessed perfectionist, I admit I’ve fallen into the trap of beating myself up over it.
I know you’re doing it too and I mean it. STOP. Making ourselves feel like crap is not going to help, especially in this situation. I know it’s difficult, but we’re in a pandemic. If there’s ever a time to go easy on yourself, in this case for having writer’s block, it’s now. So what can you do to still keep writing but not drive yourself crazy during an already crazy time?
Take a Breather
From a self-confessed perfectionist, trust me, I know this isn’t easy. But like I’ve just said: If there’s ever a time to give yourself a break, it’s now. There’s a lot we can’t do right now, but there are those little things we can do, that makes a big difference to our mental wellbeing.
With most of us working from home right now (essential workers, we salute you) get yourself a cup of tea, get cozy in your pajamas, and zone out for a little while. Watch a documentary, listen to some music, do some exercise, whatever you need to do. The writing will still be there for when you get back.
Write When You Can
If you can only write for five minutes before getting a headache, that’s fine. Write for those five minutes and take the time you need to refresh. If you can only write for ten minutes now, as opposed to hours before, don’t beat yourself up. We’re all in a state of collective stress and anxiety right now, so I get it. Even if it’s just an idea to write down, write when you feel up to it. Don’t force it.
Set Small Targets
I know it might seem alien, or that you’re not doing enough, but this really helps. If you’re experiencing the added burnout and fatigue this pandemic has given us all, set small targets. So instead of beating yourself up that you can’t write 2,000 words in a day like you used to, try 100 or 200 words a day. Completing those small but manageable tasks will help you feel better. A slow pace is better than none at all, and it’s certainly better than making yourself feel like garbage because of it!
Write What’s On Your Mind
I know not everyone can do this because of strict deadlines, but hear me out. Our minds are full of clutter, full to capacity, and then some. There’s a lot to think about and understandably, everyone’s more than a little on edge. So, like most writers, our minds are then full of ideas even if it’s not linked to the story we’re writing.
So why not write what’s on your mind and desperately trying to get out? Keep a notebook or write it on your laptop. It doesn’t have to be used, or it could just be one line. It could be a journal entry about your day or a concept for a story. But once it’s out in the open, it’s a bit of free space made up in your mind to focus on the writing you’re struggling with.
It’s Going to Be Okay
Times are scary. We’ve got a lot to worry about. So in between wondering what the hell is going on and how we’re going to get that story finally written, remind yourself: It’s going to be ok.
You are a good writer. I believe in you. Sometimes life throws us (or in this case, all of us) a massive curveball and we need to adapt. You can’t write your piece if you don’t look after you first. Take those little baby steps. Write your story bit by bit. Take a walk and come back to it. Call a friend or family member, be it on the phone or over Zoom. Talk to fellow writers. Work with the ideas your creative mind is giving you, rather than against them. Most of all, remember to take a deep breath and remember: It’s going to be ok.