Welcome Fiona to my Isolation for Writers Series.
How do writers, creatives, artists and bookish souls cope with isolation? Is their capacity to cope different from the rest of the population? It’s an interesting question and one that fascinates me.
How is Fiona coping with this enforced isolation?
I’m an author, playwright and copywriter living in North Wales, just over the border from Chester. For years I worked in an office environment until motherhood and my husband’s career moves tugged me into self-employment, dumped me onto a new creative path, and turned my dream career into a reality.
My debut fantasy novel, Haven Wakes, was published by Burning Chair in 2019 and I’m currently working on the follow-up, as yet untitled novel due to be published in 2020.
Buy my book http://fiphillipswriter.com/books/
Burning Chair Publishing https://burningchairpublishing.com/
ISOLATION FOR WRITERS
When the announcement was made in the UK that the country would go into lockdown, there was an initial moment of panic – panic buying, panic responses on social media and that feeling of panic in my gut. It was an ‘oh my god’ moment multiplied to the extreme.
Schools and colleges closed, meaning that my two teens were now at home 24/7. Workplaces made the decision to close or arrange for their employees to work remotely. Non-essential shops shut up, well, shop. The country came to an almost standstill.
We held our breath and kept our eyes on the news.
But here’s the weird thing. In a lot of ways, life didn’t actually change for me. I work from home as an author and copywriter. My husband, although employed, works from our home too. Our teens are of an age where they can look after themselves for the most part. The dog still needs walking, which is doable as long as we don’t go near anyone during that walk. Life in lockdown isn’t far from the way it was before.
Want to know what has changed for me as a writer? My energy, motivation and inspiration levels are at an all-time low. I know this is down to the COVID 19 crisis – the anxiety, the loss, the frustration – but those three intrinsically-linked factors have always kept me going as a writer and now, when I need them the most, they’re reluctant to play ball.
So what do I do to cope?
I keep to a routine
If you’re anything like me, life in isolation leads to the days all running into one. Having a routine Monday to Friday gives me a shape to the week.
Mornings are for writing. My teens are in bed. My husband is at his desk upstairs. I take advantage of the peace and quiet and ignore the news and social media for a few hours.
Lunchtime is for catching up with the family, ensuring I eat something reasonably wholesome, and probably putting a wash on the line.
Afternoons are for emails, admin, social media and housework.
The evenings are the time to just be.
I don’t beat myself up
We are living in a time of extreme pressure:
- the pressure to play by the lockdown rules
- the pressure to not waste the extra time some of us have been given
- the pressure to home school
- the pressure to work from home
- the pressure of knowing we may come into contact with someone who is infected
- the pressure of worrying about our loved ones
The last thing any of us should be doing is putting extra pressure on ourselves.
So, one night I don’t cook an evening meal and my teenagers get themselves a pizza pocket from the freezer instead. That’s not going to really harm them.
If I only manage to write 500 words of my work in progress, there’s always tomorrow.
If I have a sleepless night, I can get up a little later or have an afternoon nap.
I’m taking life at the moment with a huge dollop of perspective.
I take plenty of breaks
If you’re anything like me, inspiration often strikes when you’re carrying out the most mundane of tasks, maybe washing up, getting a cup of tea, or taking the dog for a walk.
I’m giving my brain as many chances as possible to bring me fresh inspiration by making sure I take lots of short breaks.
When I walk the dog, I enjoy the peace of a stroll through the trees near my home. I listen to the birds (because with less traffic on the roads I can actually hear the birds now), I enjoy the breeze on my face, and I take my time to watch the skies, whatever the weather.
I throw out a challenge at the beginning of my break – how will my characters get themselves into that much trouble, and more importantly, how will they get themselves out of it? – and wait for the answer to come back to me. It hasn’t failed me so far.
Thank you so much for being my guest Fiona. It is lovely to ‘meet,’ you.
Wishing you health and happiness and many happy writing days.
Authors Website: https://mjmallon.com
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