• Julie

Writing during a pandemic

Yup, I woke up this morning and thought, "My first blog post ever (since my Xanga/LiveJournal days) will be about writing during a pandemic. I'm sure one day, I'll blog about my querying experience and how my book came to be. However, like many folks, writing during these frustrating and difficult times is, well, frustrating and difficult!

When I started working from home back in March, I had recently completed a major revision for THE DONUT TRAP, so I was planning to take a break from writing anyway. During those early days, all my mental energy went into balancing working from home part-time while my husband was doing the same (but full-time) in another room while simultaneously taking care of our two young children and trying to stay on top of coronavirus news. There was nothing left for writing after that.

When THE DONUT TRAP sold (yay!), I told myself it was time to dig up my WIP (which I drafted while I was querying during Fall 2019). A few things happened:

  • My WIP was in worse shape than I remembered, so I panicked.

  • I didn't have the energy or creativity to fix my WIP, so I panicked some more.

  • I found out writing fun, fluffy romance when all you feel is dread is really, really hard (no surprise.)

But a few other things happened, which is largely attributed to privileges that I have. My husband typically has a reduced work schedule during the summer, which meant I was able to redistribute parenting duties to him during my writing days. My family's living situation and health have been stable, so by late May, I finally accepted that this is our new normal (at least until the pandemic is over) and have adapted somewhat. So all the mental energy that was spent on learning about COVID-19 and how to sanitize my home also freed up.

So, I'm happy to say that I've been writing my WIP, which I basically started from scratch because yeah, WIP v.1 was not pretty. During the first week or so, I wrote at a glacial pace because it took a long time to get in right head space to write rom-com. I had so many sentences that started with "Maybe [x happens]" or ended with "[x happened] or whatever." As much as I tried, "the uncertain times" snuck their way into my writing.

It helped tremendously that I received feedback on early chapters from my critique partners Joanne and Linh and my beta reader/writing cheerleader, Joyce. It always helps when there are people rooting for you. I also kept my phone far away from me and turned of all my notifications because otherwise, I would be scrolling through my Twitter tl all day.

As I wrote more, it became easier to keep the momentum. That's not to say that there haven't been bad writing days. There have been plenty of those. It's been more important, given the circumstances, to be extra kind to myself during these bad writing days. To know that writing during a pandemic is challenging and slow. To take whatever progress as it comes. So what, if I didn't write [X] amount of words, but hey! I plotted out the next few chapters or gathered useful research or reflected on what my characters' arcs. All of that is progress and necessary work that informs the writing.

I'm currently about halfway through my WIP v.2 and I love where it's going, messes and all. Since it's a matter of time before summer ends, I've been trying to power through writing before our work schedules get busy again and my daughter starts school in the fall. It's very possible that I might not finish drafting before Fall begins, but I'll take what I can get because at this point, something is better than nothing.

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