On Lockdown Writing (and why it’s okay if you didn’t do it)

Do you remember at the start of lockdown how people were talking about what all they were going to be able to do during the hours of self-isolating? I vaguely recall the idealism — it wasn’t too prevalent in my online or IRL circles of mothers and young families! We were questioning how we’d merely survive the next few months not making plans for our first or next great novel.

If you were able to get some creative juices flowing, accomplish or launch something big, or tackle a new creative hobby, I’m whole-heartedly pleased for you. But I bet a lot of the work that went into what you produced in lockdown was done well before lockdown started. I could probably safely assume the rhythms and habits you had in that pursuit were in place before the world turned upside down.

And it’s okay if none of that was in place prior to lockdown.

We all struggle with comparing what others do — or seem to do — on their social media posts about their endeavours. Weird jealousies can arise when we’d really like to be happy for someone. I’d like to propose that the lockdown writing that did or didn’t happen in the past several months is what it is. Let’s leave it and move on.

How do we accomplish this? It comes from peace with yourself as a writer. Do you trust yourself to not give up? Do you know down deep within that your time is coming, because you get to choose it. When you couldn’t say yes to your writing in this season, do you understand that you were actually saying yes to other worthy priorities? Your children got more of you. Your partner wasn’t neglected. Your mental health was honoured. And would you even be happy with yourself if you had typed up something magnificent but had nothing left to give afterward? I do not subscribe to the writer-martyr archetype whose messy life, poor relationships, and bad habits get idolised simply because “they gave everything” to their craft. Mental health is serious, not merely an attractive or mysterious element of our writer biographies. I suggest we can be healthy writers without the obsessive creative stereotype.

Tap into what you actually believe about yourself and your writing aspirations. Trust that a flow will come from motivation out of a place of rest, because you give yourself space to simply be for a while. We do not always have to be rushing and doing.

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