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Creativity coach, writing and creative process instructor, speaker, author of Around the Writer's Block: Using Brain Science to Write the Way You Want (Penguin/Tarcher 2012) and Dancing in the Dragon's Den (Red Wheel Weiser), Teaching Artist at the Loft Literary Center.

Writing in the Time of Pandemic: Surprising Good News! This Is the Time to Make Your Writing Stronger than Ever!

surprise glitter computer happy writer laptop © Can Stock Photo Amaviael canstockphoto8211148

© Can Stock Photo / Amaviael

Back when the pandemic first started, I heard something on the radio that grabbed my attention. Despite my best efforts, I haven’t been able to identify the radio program or the research mentioned, so I can’t say how valid this information is, but if it’s true, it’s great news for us.

Apparently, there is evidence that behavior changes made during an external crisis tend to be “stickier.” Even a small improvement we make to our writing practice now, will probably have a greater impact and last longer than changes we made BP (Before Pandemic).

Yes, our lives are sideways, if not completely upside-down. Yes, our routines have been stretched, twisted, shredded and sometimes flushed like a dead goldfish. Yes, our best response to be kind to ourselves and others and to refuse to entertain guilt.

Yes, my writing practice wobbled when the pandemic started. Maybe yours did, too. If the research is correct, recovering our practice now while the pandemic lingers and we’re all trying to find our new normal will make our writing habits stronger than ever.

cha-cha optimistFrom Scraps to Anchor

It’s okay if we struggled with our writing, if we couldn’t find the words or couldn’t focus our attention. This was and still is our first pandemic. We’re all learning.

If we can hold on to even a scrap of a writing habit now, it will be a solid anchor when we come out of this. Just 5 or 10 minutes of showing up can pay off for years to come.

Those of us who had writing routine BP will have an easier time finding our way back. Even if you didn’t have much of a writing habit, you can apply what you learned from building another habit. I’m confident you had at least one habit — you did brush your teeth BP, right? (watch more)

What Matters

head and heart EQIt doesn’t matter whether you restore a writing habit or create a new one.

It doesn’t matter whether you focus on one of the three habits I recommend (Process, Self-care and Product Time) or some other writing-related habit.

It doesn’t matter what days or what time you show up. If you like the comfort of showing up on the same day and time, that’s great. If you prefer the freedom of choosing the day and time as you go, that’s great, too.

What matters, especially now, is that you make a small commitment.

Keep It Small

My usual commitment in semi-retirement is to show up for Product Time for 15 minutes, two times a week, unless we’re traveling or having guests when I commit to zero minutes a week. I usually show up on three to five days and do something writing-related for anywhere from 15 minutes to a couple of hours.

too smallWhy a small commitment? Here are ten reasons, but the short answer is because you can consistently honor a small commitment.

Setting yourself up for potential failure is counter productive. Set the bar so low, you can’t help but walk over it. If you practice your habit more than than you commit to, that’s great.

Why “do something writing-related” instead of “write”? One answer is that what Product Time looks like varies depending on what stage of the creative process you’re in (read more).

We’re using the time of pandemic to restore or reinforce a habit, so it doesn’t matter what you do. That you show up when you say will is all that matters.

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