Writers have long been told they need to “write every day”or to do their “morning pages.” I may have been able to write most days, with the exception of the last two years for obvious reasons. Just like everything else in our lives, the pandemic has changed how we think and act in both our personal and professional lives. As such, it helps to reframe that mantra to include more than just sitting down with a pen and paper or typing into a keyboard.
In an August 11, 2021 article in The Writer Magazine, Anica Mrose Rissi wrote:
“Knowing how and when to step away from the page is an important element of craft – one that’s no less essential than fine-tuning your ear for dialogue, sharpening your revision skills, or honing your voice. As with those other skills, you’ll discover how best to wield time off through experimentation and practice.”The Writer Magazine
For the first year of the pandemic, working with a developmental editor on a novel provided me the structure to write and edit my novel in progress every day. Actually, it forced me to write in general, and I welcomed not only the diversion but the human contact with my editor as we shared our COVID stories and offered much needed emotional support. She sewed masks and sent about thirty to me to distribute to friends and family. I sent boxes of diapers, paper products and toiletries to help those in her community. The novel was completed, but alas, I have not been able to complete the editing as things went from back and forth from better to bad to worse, ad infinitum with each COVID mutation.
But the apocalyptic experience provided fodder for my non fiction, and some of those pieces are among the best pieces I’ve written for my memoir. And they also informed and enriched my fiction, providing an entire plot line for the second book in the new series (which has also stalled).
About which Ms. Rossi states,
“The goal during this generative period away from the desk is to think a little about your project each day – while driving, washing dishes, reading, falling asleep – and jot ideas as they come, without worrying about writing. Keep notebooks and pens in key places, like your jacket pocket and next to the bed, but don’t force the process. It takes the time it takes. If needed, remind yourself: Thinking counts as writing!”The Writer Magazine
This wonderful article goes on to discuss other steps to “The Art of Not Writing,” which include “The Break from Routine, “The Snack and the Nap,” “The Deep Breath,” “The Necessary Diversion,” among others.
Without a doubt the pandemic has, at the very least, led to opportunities to try out new ways of doing things. So it’s time for “The Brief Fling,” “The Reward Break,” “The Pause Before the Finish Line,” and “The True Rest.”