Monday, 16 March 2020
Converting fear into creation
Excuse me for being out of touch but life got in the way...it has a habit of doing that. Due to some hyper-energetic twin toddlers and one philosophical, attention-seeking dog, I've been mostly out of touch except for the occasional one-liners on social media. I won't go on here about the shocking C-word pandemic BUT I will say that we must do our part in the community to stay safe and help others stay safe and healthy. There's nothing like a world-wide, life-threatening virus to put things in perspective.
So, this post is more about ways that we writers and readers can convert our fear into creation. Being housebound, we'll all need some creative therapy and escapism.
On converting fear into creation
How can we use our skills, talents, and imaginations to channel our mutual worries into something useful and positive? Instead of feeling out-of-control in this life-changing situation whether you're housebound because of a self-quarantine, or if the government has ordered you to stay inside, there are ways to flip this scenario. I'll just put a few ideas out there:
Do a Marie Kondo on your writing (and reading). Go through all of your electronic and print drafts of stories, poems, articles, half-baked ideas, nearly-finished novels and clean 'em up. If the piece 'sparks joy' when you see it again then keep it for your 'in-process drafts' folder. If not, move it over to a 'learning' folder or 'archives' or simply shred/burn/recycle it. Or throw it out the window so those rare people passing by outside have something to read. Do the same with books (Kondo has a great episode on Netflix where she gets people to go through their book collections. Painful but good). If it's "Love Bites" though, please don't throw it away.
Organize your writing space (and reading space). Go through your supplies box and save your favourite pens, pencils, journals, paper, stickers, candles - whatever helps your process, and keep them in a special and easy-to-access place. Donate the rest or store them away. Find a favourite chair or bench or bar stool where you love to read. Make sure the lighting is right, that your phone is in another room and on silence mode, and let yourself escape.
Do morning pages (or afternoon or evening pages), Julia Cameron-style (The Artist's Way). Set 10 minutes on a timer and write fast and furiously on your current fears, worst-case scenarios, best-case scenarios, predictions of what'll come next, etc. Jot down everything that's on your mind at the moment. See this as a place to air your concerns and joys, dreams and nightmares. When the timer goes off, close the book and put it away. Read it at a later time when you're brave enough, or when this Corona phase is over.
Finish something. Use this time – however long it takes until our daily lives are back to normal – to complete a piece of writing you haven’t given yourself time to complete or to finish a book you've been too busy to read. This will give you a sense of purpose, control, and joy at being productive and creative despite the external odds.
Share with others. Spend some time on the phone, email, or conference calling with a few buddies with whom you can share your work or critique a book you've just read. Perhaps you simply email exchange a story for a story and give each other a timeline and some questions for them to focus on when reading. Skype, Zoom, and other services offer video chats.
1. It's been 2 years since "Love Bites and other stories" was published by Unbound and once again, I thank you for your patronage. The print copies can be found in all good British bookshops and ordered through Amazon.com/.ca/.de/co.uk
If you haven't yet left a review please do. Every review helps even if it just means clicking on the stars.
2. I've been getting up at 5:30 am to finish my novel The Smoking Dog. It's set to go to an editor at Reedsy on my birthday, so that's a gift. I'll write more about it as it becomes a book and let you know.
3. I'll be launching a Patreon page in the near future. If you're interested in finding out more and/or becoming a patron check it out: https://www.patreon.com/elenakaufman
4. Take care of yourselves, your family, friends, neighbours. Thank our healthcare workers, postal workers, street cleaners, pharmacists, grocery store workers - those people who keep our society running despite the risks to their health.
Deep breathe and be grateful. I'm grateful to you for reading this.
with best wishes from Hamburg,