• Pandemic Writing 2: HOW Are You Writing?

    Posted Posted by David Duhr in CoronaVirus     Comments 32 comments

    Discussion questions: How is this pandemic affecting your writing life? If you’re under a shelter-in-place order, is the extra time at home translating to an increase in writing output? How is it affecting your mental approach to writing? Your physical approach? Your schedule? If you’re not yet under lockdown, how are you planning to handle it when it does come?


    During this weird time I wanted to run a bunch of discussion posts where we can all keep in touch and talk about specific things like what we’re writing and what we’re reading, and general things like… how we’re making it through this. Find links to the other posts at the bottom of this one.


    In this post, I want us to talk about our mental and physical approach to writing during this pandemic.

    If you’re already on lockdown, how has it affected your writing life so far? Have you seen an increased output, or is the opposite happening? If you’re writing less, do you wish it were otherwise, or do you have… more important things on your mind?

    If a lockdown is coming your way, are you working on a strategy for either creating or continuing your writing routine?

    How is this situation impacting your mental approach to writing (and life)?

    How is it impacting your physical approach to writing (and life)?

    Do you tend to work well in isolation, or is this whole thing throwing you off your game?

    Let’s talk about it in the comments. Share your struggles during this time, and share your strategies. Read the struggles and concerns of your fellow WriteByNighters, and don’t be afraid to share some words of support and encouragement.


    Here are links to our other three discussion posts:

    What we’re writing during this pandemic

    What we’re reading during this pandemic

    A general discussion post where you can talk (or vent) about whatever you want: what’s the vibe in your house, your town or city, your state, your country? What movies and TV shows are you watching? How much toilet paper do you have left? How weird is this?

    Stay safe, friends. Stay healthy. Stay home, as much as you can.


    WriteByNight co-founder David Duhr is fiction editor at the Texas Observer and co-host of the Yak Babies podcast, and has written about books for the Dallas Morning News, Electric Literature, Publishing Perspectives, and others.

    WriteByNight is a writers’ service dedicated to helping you achieve your creative potential and literary goals. We work with writers of all experience levels working in all genres, nationwide and worldwide. If you have a 2020 writing project you’d like a little help with, take a look at our book coachingprivate instruction and writer’s block counseling services. If you have a manuscript that’s ready for some editorial care, check out our various critiquing, editorial, and proofing servicesJoin our mailing list and get a FREE writer’s diagnostic, “Common problems and SOLUTIONS for the struggling writer.”

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    Joe Giordano

    As with other life tragedies I’ve faced, take it one day at a time and stay optimistic about the future. Write/work to take your mind away from worry. Find something to laugh about.

    Joe Giordano

    Friends send me videos. I’d attach a couple, but I couldn’t figure out how.

    Joe Giordano

    I have a file, not a link.

    Elissa Malcohn

    With the exception of what I’ve been writing in my journal, my methods are pretty much the same as before. I work at home on flex time; between that and caregiving I don’t get out much to begin with. That being said, I’ve further cut my excursions. Journal writing served to help pass the time in waiting rooms and in other settings where I would otherwise twiddle my thumbs, so that activity has mainly shifted location, back to home. The structure and methods of my 366 experiment were already unlike anything I had done before (e.g., daily writing with word… Read more »

    Elissa Malcohn

    Yep. Already written. I’m now at the point where I check back (that is, way back) on occasion for continuity. I normally review the past two or three days plus my journal notes before I write each new installment.


    My post-apocalypse science fiction novel, “Power of the Ancients.” I just finished a complete draft and hope I can find a beta-reader or two. My town is not in lock-down yet. When it comes, it won’t affect my writing process much, since I stay at home and write anyway. Already, though, my writers assoc conference has been canceled, and my chapter meetings are suspended. So sharing and feedback will have to be online.


    We have always used email for group communications, so everyone is used to that. We’ve setup a process using Dropbox for ongoing critiques. Today, we’re doing a test to see if Zoom can be of use to us. We just figuring it out as we go.

    Elissa Malcohn

    One of my clients uses Zoom and we’ve had good results. Now one of my other groups is checking it out. That being said, there’s a cautionary tale in the NYT about the trolling danger posed by holding meetings that are publicly accessible: https://www.nytimes.com/2020/03/20/style/zoombombing-zoom-trolling.html

    Elissa Malcohn

    Oh, my — had to look that one up. No such moments here. The meeting with my group went well last night. Was great to “see” each other again!

    Sharon Ewing

    I find my mind preoccupied by pandemic Information. I have 5 siblings in various states, so I try to keep up with them as well as my immediate family. It’s a bit overwhelming and worrisome. I tried, at first, to ignore writing about it but have since decided to write about how it’s impacting my world. I expect there will be some powerful stories whenever this crisis dissipates.


    Hi everyone,
    It is encouraging and inspiring to hear about you all working so hard. I have been having a hard time the past few days. Very hard to concentrate. My mind keeps drifting from what’s happening in the world to what’s happening to people in my family, to work at the hospital and expecting things will keep getting worse for a while. I do rely a lot on my faith, and I think it will maybe help if I can consider writing a form of prayer.

    Elissa Malcohn

    Hi, Susan — I can’t thank you enough for being there on the front lines. Sending you safe but strong cyber hugs.


    Elissa, I needed and I felt those hugs. Thank you. Friday night I had one positive Covid on my care list, last night four, and many more in the hospital in general. This is the first small stream in a coming wave. They are so sick, but they are, touchingly, very grateful, if able to respond, for every thing we do for them.


    You just did provide a boost.

    Cheryl Guillot Jones

    As much as I have in the past complained about not having time to write, having the time is as challenging. I have also experienced more than enough rejection in just a few days. For the next week, I am going to stay as close to my routine as possible, wave to my neighbors, and take my laptop to the deck from where I can see mountains. By the way, it is National Crayon Day. How can we celebrate?

    David Fried

    This has actually been a good reset for me. Getting out of the normal routine has kickstarted new ones, so now I’m getting up at 6 every morning, getting a workout in, and then writing for most of the morning. I’ve accomplished more in the last couple of weeks than I have in the previous couple of years.

    David K. Fried

    According to my habit tracker, it was March 19th that I made the switch. March 12th was the date that we cancelled the Disney cruise we were scheduled to go on two days later, and my son’s 7th birthday was the 15th. So I definitely spent that week in a depressive fog. Drank more in that week than I probably had in the previous year.

    David Fried

    Well, we canceled on Thursday, and on Friday they canceled the whole thing. So if we hadn’t canceled, we still wouldn’t have gotten to go on the cruise, we just would have been standing at the harbor having to find our way back to Austin. It’s also worth noting that the decision to change the routine came at a time that wasn’t exactly ideal for it — about 1:30 am, when I was in an alcohol- and cigar-induced haze, and I was deciding to wake up in about 4 hours to work out. But there’s never a convenient time, is… Read more »

    Cheryl Guillot Jones

    I have certainly been making a lot of notes lately, but sitting down to write a scene has been challenging. I have been implementing a “layering” technique. I don’t remember this from a class, it may just be something I made up along the way. Start by visualizing the scene empty except for the place. Then layer in sounds, smells, characters and dialogue. Choose whatever needs to stay in the scene. I have two really good scenes this week. Whatever works.

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