A Writer Stuck at Home
I have a lot more time now than I did before. But you will be surprised to know that I have written fewer words now than I did before. Previously, I yearned to have the time that I have now, to write, muse on my ideas, hold a cup of coffee in my hand that says I (heart) Cheese, and write on my computer with Alexa playing dark classical in the background. Come to think of it, this is not what I wanted, at least not this way.
I have always been a worst-case scenario type of person, which is one of the reasons why others ask me for stuff because I usually always have it on me. To give you a visual, I was that mommy, that would bring a big beach bag to the park with anything and everything my kid could need. I’m delighted to say, it came in handy twice, when another kiddo wanted a juice box (I always carried more) and when a mommy needed baby wipes (ditto).
So you see, I’ve always been prepared for the worst.
We didn’t need to run out to buy toilet paper or paper towels or disinfectants because I always kept a month’s supply at the house. Not because I’m this doomsday planner. Well, maybe I am just a little. Have you watched the Walking Dead? But also because once a month, bulk-supply shopping made my life simple.
You can say, I’ve prepared my whole life for this. But not precisely this. I didn’t anticipate the anxiety. My brain going and going with a million ideas of what can go wrong even when I tried to sleep — or stuck with little words to type on the page, watching the clicker blink till it disappeared. Don’t get me wrong, I have ideas, a whole digital note of them (you know those notes go forever), but the words just don’t flow like before, not even with classical music. I’m anxious.
You see, I’m was so prepared, so ready, but I didn’t take into account the emotions it would bring. I look at the Walking Dead, completely different now. I was always a Worry Wart, alert. Now that my worries are confirmed, I’m dog tired. So much so, my creative juices are coming in slow spurts.
I know this is not the end, and even if it is, I refuse to live it in misery. My grandma taught me many things, two of those are, that no matter how little one has, one can always give, and the second that no matter how bad things get, there is still something good to come of it.
Even in my anxiety-filled state, I want to share my worries with you. Because sometimes, we think we must stay strong and don’t permit ourselves to break down and cry. I’m telling you, it is okay. Second, I want to share with you some things that helped me to keep my anxiety-driven brain from going over the edge. Because once you cry it out, I want you to get back up and look at what you can control and handle that.
I still write. It is not 800–1000 words, more like 100–300 words, but I do. I’m making myself do it till the words start flowing loosely again. Because expressing myself through my preferred medium will help me to exorcise my anxiety. Whatever your preferred medium is, continue to pursue in a way that is still safe (social distancing and all).
I’m maintaining my morning routine of working out. Although the gym is close, I’ve turned a small space into my work out heaven. I use Fitbod, and FitOn both have workouts that require no equipment. FitOn even has yoga! Believe it or not, when my brain is on automatic pilot like on meditation, or while doing the fifth push up, ideas, dialogue, plot twists start flowing. Be ready with a notepad to write them down.
I’ve incorporated meditation into my routine. Because I have more time now, and duh! I needed big time. I use the Headspace app.
I don’t leave the news on anymore. It was adding to my anxiety and clogging my brain from pursuing creative thoughts. Instead, I read local news after I work out to stay abreast of anything new, but I don’t have it playing in the background.
I’m reading like a writer. This is going to sound weird, but I’m so happy to be enrolled in school. I’m pursuing an MFA on creative writing through National University, entirely online. Interacting with the other students and having to read to analyze the writing of other writers have kept my mind focused on something else. If you are not enrolled or don’t want to, there different ways to acquire or master skills. Some of the apps I use are YouTube, GreatCourses, MasterClass, Udemy. I get some Great Courses for free with my Audible subscription. My hubby gifted me with a MasterClass subscription. Some of the Udemy classes are affordable, and sometimes they have sales.
Something else I’ve learned in school is that shows and movies can teach us the art of storytelling. With this extra time, I’ve discovered new shows. Although my husband gets annoyed when I point out a foreshadow part in a scene, or explain to him the narrative style of a movie, I am doing two things: Learning and spending time with the hubs. If you are pursuing writing, I challenge you to watch a movie or an episode of a show with a notepad on your lap and analyze it. Oh, all the things you will learn! We started to watch the show Power from Starz. I’m learning a lot, like how to incorporate Spanish dialogue into writing correctly.
Where I live going outside is still doable because there’s a lot of open space. My husband and I go on long walks with the puppies. We encounter more families out and about now. I guess they are getting cabin fever too. But we maintain the six feet minimum space and wave as we pass each other. People were friendly before, but now there’s a sense of understanding and solidarity when we see other families out. Most important for me, the repetitive motions of walking helps my mind go into a creative space. I hate to repeat this, but keep that notepad handy.
When all else fails, I take a nap. Because now I have time, so why not, and it helps to reset. Just don’t take a three-hour one. It may disrupt your sleep cycle. It was not fun.
I would love to hear from you. What new activities you discovered? What has helped you to keep your creative juices flowing?