This writer has been in lockdown since March 18th, 2020 and now that it has been extended for another two weeks…AGAIN…here’s what’s coming out of her mind these days. The writer’s survival kit for lockdowns and shitty situations.
Not many people know this because we are not always in the news. Nobody really cares about what happens in this part of the world unless it is something massive and shocking. #MH370
Although the Coronavirus Pandemic has jolted the world awake on many fronts, medically and economically, Malaysia, as a country, has maintained a pretty good record for having a tight rein on its people’s adherence to its Movement Control Order. It sucks b@!!z but what can we do?
(Can you tell I am slightly annoyed? No? I bet not. I am so mad. I am so polite. Whatever, I have a neck.)
In fact, the Malaysian government just extended the Covid-19 lockdown for another 14 days.
We’re moaning and groaning about it right now but there really isn’t anything we can do because it’s the right thing to do. We’re far too close to Singapore which is experiencing a sudden wave of cases and despite the drop in the number of new cases in our own country, we’re still far from safe.
We’ve been in lockdown since March 18th, 2020 and the novelty has worn off. Going to the grocery store or 7-11 is a pain in the a@@.
So, how do I, as a writer, continue writing and keep things refreshing despite the dull, dreary, couch-filled days that I have been living?
1. Keeping a Library of Interesting Content to Read
Any committed, professional, serious writer knows that reading is one of the most important things for a writer. I’m done reading the user’s manual for the microwave oven I bought 7 months ago. Next up, fanfics that I hate? #sarcasm #what?!?!
Jokes aside, I have a huge library of things to read and write about on my favorite app. My app of choice is Gmail and Google Keep app. Whatever I find interesting, it gets linked up in the app or starred in my email.
With new insights, opinions and ideas come new content.
2. Staying in a Safe Quiet Space for a Few Minutes
Some people call this meditating, so, yes, I do that. When thoughts are fleeting and fluffing their feathers all around in my headspace, I get flustered. A flustered writer is not going to come up with anything humorous, creative, interesting, insightful, or educational.
It doesn’t mean that there’s Nirvana in the safe quiet space of mindfulness that I give myself, I still become impatient, angry, frustrated, annoyed, and sad.
But I have been trained to understand myself better; that when my thoughts and attention wander, I am human. So, I rise above it, stay with it, and then slowly bring myself back to that quiet headspace.
If you want to give it a shot, here are 5 ways to try out mindfulness for yourself.
“Little good comes from being distracted yet we seem incapable of focusing our attention. Among many qualities that suffer, recent research shows creativity takes a hit when you’re constantly busy. Being able to switch between focus and daydreaming is an important skill that’s reduced by insufferable busyness.”– Derek Beres for Big Think
3. Let go and Allow Myself Some Crazy
First, I’ve got to shut and lock my room door to make sure my kids are out of my zone. They’re grownups now but still…seeing your mom headbanging to ACDC in her room is going to freak them out.
It’s a good thing I am a single mother who has been solo for most of my life because there is beauty in being single.
“But then resignation arrived, and with it, a certain, glorious freedom. I was divorced, not dead. The questions I had? It was akin to asking a well where I could find a drink of water. And in their absence, new ones arrived: Who were my neighbors in the eternal city? Which interests could I develop? How could I create a routine that nurtured my values? And how could I march in single file?”– Lauretta Zucchetti
Worry not if you’re not single, though, because if you time yourself well, you can snag a breather moment to let yourself go and be crazy. Blare the music, put on a good set of headphones and let it rip!
4. Staying Connected with my Loved Ones
I guess there’s no beating this one. I either jumpscare my kids with over-affectionate hugs and sudden IloveYouuuus, or I’d be on Whatsapp with my family members just showing them how shabby and what a hot mess I can be on the couch doing absolutely nothing.
It’s funny how being a little bit more social brings back sanity.
This is especially true if you have nephews or nieces who are completely over-the-moon because of the lockdown. Let their eternal inner sunshine sprinkle some of that love-sparkle on your overcast moods.
5. Keep Writing
I spend most of my days writing for others because that’s how I try to feed this family and keep starvation at bay. Other times, when I have a moment to myself, I write something personal in my blog, contribute to a publication, publish an insightful article on my website, MarshaMetta, or I write an anonymous hate-note on a celebrity’s Instagram account.
The last one is a joke…please. The last I checked, people are still allowed to joke despite the Covid-19 lockdown.
“Often I write to provide a little bit of comic relief. Sometimes I am working out painful memories or things that have been hard to endure. There are stories in me that want to pour out of my typing fingertips. I let them.”– Judy McLain (Medium)
This is the time when you feel thankful for having a personal journal or blog. I look for topics I am interested in, explore, dig deeper, find links, read reviews and opinions, form my own thoughts, arrange my ideas into un-crazy words like ducks in a row, and then publish.
6. Filter but Don’t Procrastinate
I asked my cousin, Mandy who is an artist, if she ever needed to have a clear picture before she started painting something prolific. She told me that as an artist, she needed to have a really clear picture in her head before she gets started with her paintings.
Thank goodness I am not a visual person.
“When I’m working on a book or it’s at that stage where I’ve done enough research, where I feel like I’ve more or less mastered a lot of the material and can move on to executing it, I actually think of it as bricklaying where I’ll come to my office, show up in my office at a certain time, like say 9:00.”– Daniel Pink, NY Times bestselling author
Writers are different because we can start from anywhere.
For me, all I need is a structure, a few directions, and some basic information. Then I am off to a roaring start, writing absolute nonsense. The absolute nonsense can turn out to be something totally great!
“[Our mother] … taught us not to become perfectionists, which is where a lot of procrastination and time-wasting occurs. Nothing is less efficient than perfectionism. Her great adage, which I still adhere to, was: Done is better than good.”– Elizabeth Gilbert, author
Like many others, with the latest announcement of an extended lockdown (in Malaysia, it will be until April 28th, 2020), I have my frustrations. It’s great that I have an avenue to write my thoughts and share them with the world.
Some people, however, may not have a filter when they write and post stuff on social media.
“Humans are a social species, which means sharing one’s thoughts, feelings and experiences. Successful social connection involves the ability to share both positive and negative emotions. During crisis, we can get comfort in sharing our fears and receiving calming and objective feedback from others. The question is: How much can I complain without being the person everybody avoids?”– Arash Javanbakht, Assistant Professor of Psychiatry at Wayne State University
Here’s what I think you should do: Write down your thoughts but, first, in private. Save it as a draft. Give yourself at least a half-hour to think things through and access your emotional state.
When you feel like you’ve psychologically walked into another dimension, re-read what you’ve written. Edit and proofread the writing and if you still feel the same, publish. If not, wait another day or discard.
7. Do Something Completely Offline
I am unsure how this will work out for people whose lives are already completely offline but because MY life is essentially online, I feel a huge relief from everything that’s going nuts in this world when I do something totally offline.
Have you ever heard of the game Solitaire? Yeah, it was a thing back then, before all this Fortnite and Minecraft hullabaloo.
I bought a real, like IRL, deck of cards and played Solitaire with it.
I know there are games and apps for that, but for now, it feels like only bad news is coming out of my smartphone. Setting it aside for half an hour or a couple of hours makes me feel better. When I get back to the table, I am in a better state of mind to tackle what’s ahead of me.
In the Nutshell and Reminder
I count myself lucky because I am a writer at heart. Not only am I up for hire as a professional freelance copywriter for companies all around the world, but I mainly write because I want to.
This pandemic has brought on the realization that when a writer like me is locked down, so is my mental capacity. I can feel my sanity slowly slipping away, going off a cliff. At times like these, I have absolutely nothing to write about.
See that digital pile of crumpled up paper in the corner of my workspace? That’s my mental vomit.
But I am still here.
So, if you’re a writer trying to make it through this real-as-hell worldwide Covid-19 lockdown and economic crisis, here’s what we need to make it through.
- Reminder: The Covid-19 pandemic is not going to be a forever-thing
- Keep your favorite books, magazines, articles or apps handy
- Find a quiet space in your house and head, meditate
- Do something crazy alone.
- Stay connected to your loved ones and friends online
- Keep writing
- Filter but don’t procrastinate. Let it be total crap for a while and then go back for the cruel editing process
- Do something completely offline
Special Note: Featured Image by Christian Erfurt on Unsplash
Sending you lotsa love and wonderful thoughts (limited supply),