This week, our resident hound posed this prompt: We’ve previously discussed how summers typically affect our writing schedules or outputs, but this summer of 2020 was unique in many ways. Tell us whether these unique factors affected your writing… and whether that was to the “good” or the “bad” in terms of output.
My short answer: the world health situation had a negative effect on my writing output.
Looking back, I realize my priorities were completely redirected. My life BC (Before Covid) included several outside activities, organized by a full schedule. Writing took place on days and times when I wasn’t sewing, teaching, card-making, scrapbooking, or performing in a musical group. It sounds like I didn’t have much time for writing, but I actually did. Since my attention span isn’t great, it worked better for me to have several short pockets of time throughout the day for getting my writing done.
But things changed AD (After Distancing). When the local universities closed on March 12, my teaching schedule changed, my performing groups discontinued, and my social groups could no longer met. This had a ripple effect on other things. Instead of short periods of time, I now had the entire day to occupy myself. Once I completed my online teaching responsibilities, I started sewing. At first, I worked on quilt tops for my church quilting group. Then, my granddaughter, who worked in the ICU at a local hospital, asked for people to help supply her unit with isolation gowns. And then, of course, I started making face masks. My cabinet sewing machine broke down, so I took out my portable and set it up on my desk, which meant that my laptop was relegated to the kitchen table, not far from the TV that’s on 24/7. And since I almost always forgot to don my bluetooth headphones, my writing didn’t get the focus it needed. I did manage to complete my Monday blog posts and do basic promo, but as for my current work-in-progress, I’m at the point in my story where I need to read it from beginning to end and fix plot holes. And that has not happened. I’ll occasionally think of something that needs expanding or something that needs to be added, so I have more words than I did in March, but I have the sinking feeling that I’m nowhere near finished with this tale. And that bothers me, because I should have had the book finished by now.
Restrictions have started to ease in Michigan, although I am still cautious about going out. We order takeout or delivery once every two or three weeks, but we have yet to eat inside a restaurant. My musical groups have not resumed, mostly because they all meet in school buildings, which are not yet open. My quilting group has been informed that we will be allowed to resume after the first of the year. My writing groups continue to meet online. And of my social groups, a few of them have met at parks, each of us bringing our own food and drinks. I have finally been able to see and hug my grandchildren, but since senior living facilities are still in lockdown, I have to communicate with my mom by phone or FaceTime. Gradually, my calendar is filling up – not nearly as full as it used to be, but enough that I have to refer to it from time to time so that I don’t forget to “show up” where and when I’ve made a commitment. And gradually, I’m finding the motivation to write and edit. It might only be one chapter or scene at a time, but I feel I’m making progress.
My father used to say, “If you want something done, ask the busiest person you know, because that person has learned to manage his or her time effectively.” I’ve always known that the busier I am, the more I get done. I’m back to making to-do lists, prioritizing so that tasks get done on time. I learned that I won’t be teaching this fall due to budget cuts, but that’s okay. I’ll miss interacting with students, but I won’t miss the paperwork. I assume the time I spent on those will soon be filled with other things – like maybe clearing out the house, now that the donation sites are once again accepting things. It’s good to be busy again.
But this break sure has been nice.