Reflections of Writing Through a Pandemic

Thursday, March 11, 2021


It’s been a year since my husband began tracking COVID-19 on the CDC maps and telling me things weren’t looking good. A year since I brushed him off, telling him he was being an alarmist and trying to go about business as usual. After all, we were all too busy to worry about a virus—we’d all lived through things like SARS and H1N1—this would be no different, right?

Of course, as we all know now, I was wrong. I don’t think anyone expected how quickly the virus would spread and the toll it would take on the health of our friends and family, as well as the difficulties our children would combat by not being able to see their friends or attend school in person. We all know how bad things have been, but today I decided to reflect on how living through a global pandemic made me a more productive writer/creator. 

Things could have gone one way or the other for me. I could have let myself sink into an abyss of depression, worry and anxiety and get the bare minimum done as far as my writing. The first few months were filled with the unknown—working for a magazine publishing group that focuses on lifestyle topics, I didn’t know how long we would be able to keep things going when everything was shut down. Our ad revenue suffered, but I tried to keep the content fresh and engaging, pivoting towards how people in the community were pulling together in spite of the stay-at-home orders from our governor. I’m happy to report we didn’t miss one issue during this time (and we had even launched a new magazine last April!) 

On the personal front, I had a lot of extra time on my hands last spring when stores were closed, restaurants were doing curbside pick-up or delivery only and the only errand I was running involved finding groceries. I had been mulling over starting up a true crime podcast, but it was during that time that I pulled together all my initial research and broke out the microphone that had been sitting boxed up in my office. I’ve now produced 25 episodes of a missing persons podcast, have a stack of content I can repurpose into a potential non-fiction book project, beefed up my blog with additional true crime posts and began producing short videos in the genre for my social media channels. 

Yes, it’s been hard on all of us. I’m heartbroken over the lives lost, and the fact that in the United States, we were given no federal mandate on how to best handle the pandemic, leaving all the states to try and make the decisions on people’s health and livelihoods on their own. But I’m more optimistic now as I see more and more people opting to get the available vaccines, and schools and businesses reopening slowly. I’m hoping all the work I put in trying to move through the hardest thing I’ve ever lived through in my lifetime and stay productive as a writer will reward me in the long run. 

Have you been more productive in your writing life during the pandemic? I’d love to hear your thoughts. 

Renee Roberson is an award-winning freelance writer and magazine editor who also hosts the true crime podcast, Missing in the Carolinas. Learn more at


Sioux Roslawski said...

Renee--There was a period--while I was teaching from home--when I had lots of extra time during the day. In reality, I was merely assigning work every day (this was last school year), and I WAS able to get lots of querying done.

Eventually, I was lucky enough to get a publisher to say yes. My last day of teaching (in-person) last year was March 13. My e-book will go live April 13--one year and one month after the world changed radically for me. (The print book will go live a bit earlier.)

Renee, you were incredibly productive during that down time... and you continue that level of productivity. Although there have been so many awful things about this last year, the virus created a sort of vacuum. It made time stand still for a while. And in that void, that absence of activity, some postive things happened...

Empish said...

Renee, Thanks for sharing about your life and how you have been dealing with COVID as a writer. I too was writing through it as well and actually still am. I had just landed a contract assignment the year before and was not sure I would keep it but the company told all of us contractors that we could remain working. That was good news. So I started pitching stories about the pandemic and working from home. It ended up being a good move on my part and was great content for their blog.

Sue Bradford Edwards said...

I'm doing just as much but not focused on the same things as before.

My WOW class is now two WOW classes - Research: Prepping to Write Nonfiction ( and Writing Nonfiction for Children and Young Adults (

I designed a logo and reworked my website and blog (

And I'm also writing fiction. My middle grade SF novel was inspired by but is not about the pandemic.

Jeanine DeHoney said...

Renee, it was indeed a very difficult year for everyone. Like you I am holding on to optimism and thankfully writing as much as I can because writing has been even more cathartic for me this past year. Thanks for sharing your reflections and good luck in all of your writing endeavors.

Renee Roberson said...

Sioux--I'd say getting a book publishing deal was a pretty good way create some lemonade out of pandemic downtime!

Empish--I really think writers have had some great opportunities to continue or begin making money from their writing, and I'm happy that your contract job continued to work out for you!

Sue--I love the idea of splitting your class into two parts. That makes perfect sense to me. The blog is looking great, too, so that was time well spent. I also love that you are now venturing out and writing fiction!

Jeanine--I'm happy to hear you've been able to stay productive with your own writing this year. Your blog posts here always amaze me, so I can just imagine what else you are putting down on the page!

Cathy C. Hall said...

Writing-for-business would have to go in the loss column in the past year but personally, I've experienced a...what would I call it? A reset, maybe?

Had time to reflect, and though I wouldn't ask for another pandemic EVER, I've grown in ways I couldn't have imagined. And maybe my writing will end up being one of those ways, Renee. We shall see. :-)

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