I’ll start with a caveat: Be cautious regarding advice on how to cope during a global pandemic. Unless the individual lived through the 1918 Spanish flu, he or she has as much experience with the current situation as you or I.
That said, some advice out there is not only misleading but possibly dangerous. I’m referring to those telling creatives to embrace an imposed stay-at-home life to create great art or pursue inspiring innovations, citing examples such as Shakespeare and Isaac Newton creating during the Plague.
Stop. Just stop.
Look, if sheltering in place does inspire your muse to new heights, I’m happy for you. What I know from my past experience interviewing creatives about their process, however, suggests this isn’t a great time for many of them. A key element found in most creatives is empathy.
Empathy is what allows creatives to produce works that move the reader/viewer/listener. It also makes them more vulnerable to experiencing the pain of others, in ways that can at times be debilitating to the creative spirit. One thing we can all agree upon is that there’s a lot of pain in the world right now.
I think we can also all agree that self-care is critical right now. Part of self-care is not imposing unrealistic expectations on yourself. I’m not the first to offer this advice; this writer says we should change our metrics and just focus on arriving on the other side in one piece.
Whatever your relationship is with your muse during this time, be gentle on both of you. Stay connected with those who can provide you with strength and support, even if you’re physically separated. And know that all of this will eventually end.
WIP UPDATE: My muse and I were fortunate that when the pandemic hit, I wasn’t doing a lot of generative writing. Editing is far less intensive for me, and that’s what I was doing, polishing off the eighth (!) draft of my work in progress, an urban fantasy novel.
I’ve just submitted the manuscript for a professional review with a published speculative author and writing instructor as part of a summer Novel Retreat. I doubt we’ll all be gathering together in person in Vermont in June. The organizers haven’t announced anything on that yet, but did make clear that manuscript reviews are still happening. I’m eager to hear the author’s feedback; the manuscript has gone through three rounds of revisions since I received helpful feedback last fall from some beta readers. Fingers crossed!