I feel like I haven’t really done much writing so far this year. We’re coming to the end of the first quarter, and my sense on thinking back is that I haven’t achieved anything at all. But, actually checking back through my records, that really isn’t true.
So far in 2020, I have:
- Written many, many reviews of all sort of things, including official reviews of Vaults festival shows for Fringe Guru
- Done a final read-through of the whole of my first novel before sending it back to the publisher
- Revised my editing plan for the second novel and made some progress in completing edits
- Helped Bear with multiple posts about his adventures
- Prepped, scripted, recorded and edited seven episodes of the podcast
- Edited and submitted a novella
- Completed three discussion posts for an online writing community
- Submitted 36 pieces for potential publication (and got three acceptances)
That’s a lot for less than three months! So, apparently, it’s a good idea for me to check my facts before I rely on your memory about what I have and haven’t done with my time.
I think the sticking point is that I haven’t written anything *new* so far this year. There have been quite a few submission opportunities I’ve either let slide or amended something old to fit the requirements. There have been a few I’ve really wanted to write something new for, and even come up with the ideas, but haven’t been able to start them, let alone finish them on time.
I thought I might get a ton of writing done while I was on holiday last week, but that didn’t happen. Then, the lockdown started and I thought I would somehow magically have tons of extra time to work on writing projects while being stuck at home. But that doesn’t seem to have materialised either.
There are currently six short story submission opportunities on my writing task list, with deadlines ranging from 30 April to 15 November. I have ideas sorted for all of them, plenty of days I can dedicate to writing projects between now and the deadlines, and no excuses.
But I’m still struggling with the effort of actually sitting down and getting on with creative projects. I can imagine a lot of people are feeling that way right now. Things are scary and uncertain in the world and, while we may or may not have more time on our hands, it’s hard to focus and it’s hard to settle to one task. And that’s okay. I think it’s important for us to acknowledge our fear and our uncertainty, and not to berate ourselves for not being mega productive every minutes of every day.
And, if you look back and really take stock of what you’ve achieved in the last week, you might find it adds up to more than you thought.
What’s really helping me is the people I know who usually run face-to-face writing workshops and retreats, who are now running them online or via conference call. The majority of my writing progress in recent years has been down to making plans with other writers to share space at a set time and help each other commit and focus. So, these opportunities to enjoy that structure and encouragement in a virtual way have been fantastic in helping me regain my mojo.
As someone said on a podcast I listened to last week: we need to wash our hands, but not of each other.
And as I wrote in a virtual freewriting workshop a few days ago:
Where can we find meaning and purpose in our altered lives?
In virtual spaces and our collective hearts.