Creativity in the Time of Shutdown
I don’t know about you, but I’m tired of being told to stay home, stay distant, stay safe. No, this isn’t a political rant, at least not too much of one. After all, I’m basically anti-social and prefer not being out in crowds. But I’m also contrary. Tell me I can’t do something and, by golly, that is exactly what I want to do. This time of Covid-19 is no different. So, instead of running through the neighborhood screaming like an insane person, I’ve put my energy to work doing things around the house I’ve been putting off for far too long and, in doing so, realized this was exactly what was needed to jumpstart the creative juices.
I’ve written about this before. When I find myself hitting a wall with a project, whether it is figuring out how to get started or I’ve hit that mid-point and can’t go further, doing something physical helps. Well, let me tell you, I’ve been doing a lot of “physical” around the house and the words are flowing. Repair the fence? Oooh, now I know how the story should open. Tear down the bathroom plumbing under the sink and I suddenly see the foreshadowing that needs to be laid in this book in preparations for the next. Turn the soil in the raised bed and get it ready for planting and I have the rest of the series planned out.
Add to that Plottr, which I blogged about last month, and I actually have decent output for the first time in months. (Speaking of Plottr, an updated version has been released since my original post and it has some new features I love. Better yet, the devs are planning to add the ability to track series in the program which will be invaluable to keeping track of plotlines, characters, etc., over a number of books)
Now the challenge is keeping the creativity going.
All this has made me wonder how the writers out there who have been used to having their alone time to write have coped with suddenly having their kids and spouses/partners home. With schools and businesses closed, our isolated work styles have been impacted by having people home all the time. A number of us have had to transform into teachers and tech advisors as our kids try to navigate their school classes through Zoom and similar programs. We’ve had to adjust to our spouses/partners invading our work area as they work from home.
Sooo many people in our spaces again.
And we can’t even escape to the library or the coffee shop because they’re closed too.
It’s even impacted me. My 80-something mother was still volunteering once a week, going to get her hair done another day, playing maj-johngg yet another day of the week. She did the grocery shopping on occasion. In other words, she got out of the house. Now she can’t. Oh, the hair appointments are back on finally (thank goodness. Hair cuts have been had!) but everything else is still on hold. That means she gets bored and wanders through to my office and has things for me to do, usually prefaced with “You don’t need to do this now but. . . . ”
So, even with the creative juices flowing, they get interrupted. And that is where the challenge comes in. How to get up from the middle of a scene and come back to it before the “need” to write has ended.
I finally sat her down and we came to an understanding of sorts. She could come ask me to do something and I could tell her “Sure, but it will be later today or tomorrow before I get to it.”. Of course, that means I have to remember to follow through, which is sometimes difficult to do if I’m deep in the hold of a current plot point.
So how have you been coping with the “new normal” and creativity? (And I so hate that term. This isn’t a new normal. This is a temporary condition unless we roll over and let the assholes who want to strip us of our liberty win.)
To prove I’m not giving up on returning to normal, I’m going to find my second cup of coffee, take it out onto the back porch and start to work. That is my new normal only because it is cool enough to enjoy and the mosquitoes aren’t the size of hummingbirds–yet.
Oh, here is what I am currently working on. This is the draft for the cover.