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Jun 5, 2020

Make the Most of Your Isolation Writing Time

By Tia Colborne.

"Great! Now I can finally write that masterpiece I've been putting off,” said every writer in the world at the beginning of social isolation.
Be honest. Like me, you had big plans back in March. How's it going for you? 

Ya, same here. It’s tougher than I thought.
The worldwide COVID-19 pandemic left our calendar wide open. Even if you’re lucky enough to have a job that allows you to work from home, you probably have a bonus free time because social events are on hold too. I’ve finished precisely zero projects. (Well, I did finish this article, so that's a win.) I imagine we're all putting pressure on ourselves for more pages filled with genius prose. All that pressure can cause blank-page syndrome even for the most well-intentioned writer. Here are some ideas to help make the most of your quarantine writing time:

If you're working on a project that requires research, now is the perfect time to connect with your experts. They will probably have time to put you in their schedule. Even if you’re not ready to use the information yet, do the interview now—things are changing rapidly, and you don't want to miss your chance. 

Have you been keeping a journal? Every writing class I've taken has recommended keeping a journal. Now is the perfect time to start. Begin each day writing about the coronavirus developments happening in your community. We’re living through extraordinary times. Get your feelings and frustrations down on paper to clear your mind and free up some mental space for creativity. Logging events may prove useful in the future. Current events could inspire a new project. At the very least, your grandchildren will be interested in what your life was like during the Great Pandemic of 2020. The essayist David Sedaris writes in his journal every day. Later he mines the entries of his diary for essay topics and stories. You can use this method too. 

When trying to measure your writing success this spring, don't raise your word count goal and force yourself to spend more time at the computer; aim for quality, not quantity. In our pre-COVID life, our former reality, we had to fight for our creative endeavors. We had to push away distractions and sacrifice social events to make time. Those pressures have been relieved. Instead of demanding more words of yourself, enjoy your free time. When you sit down at your computer, you'll be relaxed and ready to write. An open mind is much better at creativity than a cluttered one. You’ll be surprised how quickly the pages stack up with this relaxed approach.

You may be writing a masterpiece, so keep at it. The world needs your writing. Stay-at-home directive or not, it may take years for you to finish your project. Enjoy your additional time at home as the silver lining of this extraordinary era we are living through.


About the Author: Tia Colborne
Tia Colborne is a writer living on the southern shore of Lake Huron in Ontario, Canada. She’s up at 5:30 am writing with the birds every day before her family wakes up. Her current project is a memoir of her time spent living in Moscow as a cast member of 42nd Street - the Musical, the first American production to be produced in Moscow after the fall of communism. The ill-fated production played during the Moscow Theatre Hostage Crisis of 2002. It’s a story of cultural adventure, with crazy characters and deep tragedy.
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