I don't think I'm the first author who struggled at times to get the words down when everything started. For the first week of Covid19, I was watching the TV regularly, and seeing articles on the Internet, and it was the end of times. C19 was spreading from country to country, and our government was going along the lines of *wash your hands*. That was mostly it, apart from a few pokes about social distancing. Schools stayed open, nothing was shut down, and we were told that what was happening in other countries was coming for us. I have friends in Italy who were contacting me and telling me that it was horrific, and they couldn't understand why the UK wasn't taking things seriously enough. I wish I'd had an answer then.
When this is all over, the world will have fundamentally changed, and I can't pinpoint how it will exactly, but I'm sure you all probably feel the same. There was already unspoken futility in some things before Covid19. I only have to look at how Brexit was handled in my country to see how everything is so messed up. If you watch the news 24/7, then we are continually being fed conflicting statements about how C19 is armageddon and hope is futile, versus that C19 will burn itself out and everything will be okay by June.
Who do we believe when we've lost our trust in the people that tell us things?
I stopped watching the news. Now, it's only once a day that I check my Sky News app, statistics, stories of heroes on the front line, and then to me, it all seems real. But being in my office with my view of the parkland, which is mostly empty apart from a few dog walkers, I was pretty much isolated to begin with, before this all started. Of course, we're impacted, I have a family I worry about, Matthew is at home full time, hubby has type 1 diabetes, my mum isn't getting any younger… but sometimes none of this seems real – like it's all happening to someone else.
I've spoken to a lot of writers who say they are finding it hard to write. Some of them have been furloughed, or work from home, some have lost their jobs. Suddenly there is an abundance of time to write; only the words aren't flowing. It's almost as if our brains can't cope with the enormity of what is happening in the world, and in my dark moments, I worry that there is no place for fiction.
Should I be marketing my new release? Should I be planning for next year? What if I don't make to next year? What if I'm grieving a loss. What if…
When I stopped watching the news, something eased inside me. The pain and anguish are still out there, but I try my hardest to avoid the sensationalism, the repeated segments, the interviews with politicians asking us to work as a country when they've spent over a century separating us into warring factions. There is so much ‘Us and Them' that when we need to rely on each other, the process is so painful.
Mostly I write for myself–writing stories I love, always with a happy ever after, and always where even the worst of life has a silver lining – so is that why some romance authors are struggling? If we fail to see the silver lining, is that what is blocking us?
If you're blocked, and you don't enjoy the process, the words don't happen.
But when I write, it's a natural high. The ‘golden awesomeness' of getting words on my Mac is what I live for, and if people read my words and like them, then that is the icing on the cake.
If writing is your career, then like me, you don't have a choice but to write through all of this and put yourself in the best possible place to write. Get your love back. So, a few weeks ago, on day one of not watching the news 24/7, I made up some rules for myself, and all joking aside, they seem to work.
- Write 200 words. Then another 200 words. Create a grid with squares that you color in when you've done each 200.
- Use control software to block social media when writing … but also don't stay on your own, talk to people on social media when you can
- Read and take each book you read as a goddamn win – because you can't be a writer unless you read.
I hope you are all well out there