Although I’m lucky enough to be able to work from home (teaching 5th-8th graders), and I’m fortunate enough to have remained healthy (along with my family and friends), it’s been rough. However, I’ve learned some things about writing while being forced to stay home, and here they are:
1. Boredom can be a good thing. I fill my days with eating, reading, binge-watching TV, eating, writing, eating, yard work. Shake off the boredom and use being bored as a nudge to try something new. I’m (mentally) working on the idea of writing an article to pitch to WOW. Check out the website and scroll down to the "Submissions (website/newsletter)" section to see what the current themes are. And contemplate doing something different, because you know you saw that episode of Law and Order last week… and here it is again.
2. Be loose. I live in sweatpants or pajamas. Did you notice (see #1) how much food I’m consuming? It’s nothin’ but elastic these days, baby. I’ve taken this loose attitude and applied it to other facets of my life. Be flexible with your opinions about your ever-expanding waistline. (Most women who are immortalized in museum sculptures or paintings have extra meat on their bones. Would you rather be thin for a fleeting amount of time, or admired forever? Ask yourself that while you’re getting a late morning snack, because your early morning snack’s memory wore off.) Also, be flexible with what you’re working on. Perhaps you’ve got a long WIP (like a novel) going on. Take a break and stretch your abilities with something shorter. A poem. An essay. A bit of flash fiction.
3. Be patient. I went to Costco early one morning during the “old people” shopping hour to get toilet paper for my daughter. (She’s no hoarder. She’s just finally down to her last roll and hasn’t been able to find it anywhere.) I got there 10 minutes after they opened. The line went along the short side of the building, then down the long front, then it snaked back along the long front to the door. Thankfully, I was able to snag a package
4. Smelling bad is alright. Reread #1 and #2. If I’m having too much fun lounging in pajamas and fantasizing about Benjamin Bratt while eating whatever isn’t duct-taped and nailed down, do you really think I have the drive to take a shower every day? Sometimes… well, sometimes it even becomes a three-day funk. Coming up with a rough draft that stinks is okay, too. If you’re having an online writing critique meeting with some friends, or you’re emailing something for some feedback, it’s perfectly acceptable for the first draft to suck. To smell badly. It may be stinky initially, but after some constructive criticism and some revision, it will smell as sweet as a freshly-shampooed head of hair.
Hopefully we’ll follow the advice of the medical profession instead of over-eager nonexperts, and hopefully we’ll feel safe to truly venture out sometime this summer. But until then?
Nothin’ but elastic, baby!