Not everyone is in the same position as me, some haven’t had a day off through this entire mess and you have my absolute respect — Frontline responders, first responders, professionals of every caliber fighting to save humanity one person at a time, you are my hero.
Some have seen their local economies re-open and because of hard times have had to return to work. I get it. If I didn’t live in the situation I do, my bills would force me to make risky decisions too. My money is incredibly tight right now, too. I am constantly struggling to find new ways to replenish my bank account, to “buy” another month of survival, I know the fear and struggle first hand. Starve or suffocate, the world is all kinds of screwed up these days.
But for the rest of us, we’re unemployed with bills rolling in relentlessly and money rolling out without being restocked. For us, the only thing we have is time.
So, what can we possibly learn from all of this? What can we take away from it?
Find the good in the struggle
And to that end, I say, find the good in the struggle. So, I hammer the hell out of the keyboard. I put the full force of my effort behind making this work. What else is there to do at the moment?
In the interim I have all this time to do something with. And for me, that something is writing.
You can either talk the talk or pick up the pen and write. And really, what better time to write than right now? If you’re unemployed, scaled back, or locked down or quarantined for any number of reasons, I have one simple question for you if you’re a writer: what’s your schedule look like?
Just because the world outside is strange and warped into terrifying new shapes, and our days have become a blank canvass, is no excuse to take time off from the one task you most wanted time to do more of before all of this started. It’s a shove in the direction of your desk. It’s the Universe saying, “Find the good, do the good, do as much of it as you can.”
What that means for you, if you’re a writer, is to write. Make use of that time and write something down. What you write doesn’t entirely matter, just that you spend some of this open-ended time becoming the writer you have within you to become. That you spend some of this time growing your craft, stacking up words, building paragraphs, and pushing out stories and articles wherever you do your thing.
Forces you to face yourself
Regardless of how much (or how little) time you have available through all of this, hard times are fertile with potential for self-reflection. This isn’t an excuse to beat yourself up for whatever mistakes might come to mind either, but to flip the script and remember your successes, and to better understand all the different versions of yourself you had to become to overcome past struggles.
If you do this enough, form it into a habit, a survival strategy, it’ll carry you through this. And if you do it well enough, it’ll help you take control of who all of this helps you become. Don’t think for a second you aren’t becoming someone different through this experience. You are. The question is, who will you become?
For writers, this means facing who you are becoming as one. How are you responding to the chaos just beyond your door and what might that response mean to your genre, niche, craft, and collection of words? What do you really think about everything going on? When you take off the brave face, what are you worried about? What scares you?
Write it all down, even if it never leaves your journal. You owe it to your future self to write it all down. Bravely, boldly, honestly.
What’s more, do this enough and you’ll notice that what you have to say to the world will grow and develop in powerful new ways as well. It won’t just be you, or you as a writer that changes through this, but also what and how you write. The question is, will you guide that process and take control of shaping it into what you want? Or will you let the circumstances of our time do the shaping for you?
Our unique responses
This all brings us to the work you create for the world. Not just the work you create for yourself, but the work you create for the world beyond yourself. This includes everything from your moments and day to day life, to your internal dialogues — fears, worries, struggles, reflections, and so on — to what those dialogues might mean to a world in need.
The question now becomes an especially tough one for some of you. What does a writer owe the world with their writing? What’s your responsibility, your obligation, to share and write on this life-altering time and experience we’re facing?
I’ll leave that question to you, for now. But, regardless of what you decide to make of it, know that your unique response and experience with the Pandemic can become a powerful part of your legacy if you let it. And it doesn’t have to be a negative part of your legacy, you can flip the script, take back control (as much as any of us can) and turn it into something new, something positive, life-changing for future generations.
Not much in the world makes sense these days. Read the news and you start to wonder if you accidentally picked up a Sci-fi story or the script for an end of the world flick. Life is indifferent to us, nature feels like its raging against us, and with all, we do to it…who could blame it if it was?
But all of that is out of your control. What is in your control is what you do with the time you have?
You tell everyone you want to be a writer, well, be a writer. Nothing is stopping you but yourself. Even if all you write are a few pages in your journal each day, when we get to the other side of this (and we will), your unique experience and struggle will be an invaluable part of the history we’re living through. Your words will lend to the story future generations will need to help them understand this time in human history, to help them learn from it and hopefully grow from it. One way or the other, writing is good medicine for the soul.