Seven Steps for Writing During Uncertain Times

I had already planned what I was going to write to you, and then life intervened. 

On Wednesday, January 6, 2021, I was working on a client manuscript when texts began to arrive. 

Have you seen the news? 
Do you know what’s happening? 
What have you heard? 

Stories about the insurrection happening at the United States Capitol were all over Twitter, Facebook, and the news. The images reminded me of the Unite the Right Rally held here in Charlottesville on August 12, 2017.

Needless to say, I’ve been somewhat distracted ever since. 

On top of the daily barrage of COVID stressors, I’ve spent some time facing old memories and sitting with the uncertainty and division plaguing our country. 

I want to know what’s going to happen. 
I want to know we’re going to be okay. 
I want a return to the calm I once knew. 

I know some of you live outside the United States. The anxieties you face might be quite different. And yet, during our COVID times, it’s likely something is happening in your part of the world. 

Maybe you’re distracted too.

Maybe that distraction is stealing your precious creative energy. 

Maybe you’re wondering how to keep writing or whether writing matters at all. 

First, let me affirm that writing is essential in times like these.

When you write down your thoughts and feelings, you allow them to live on the page rather than inside you.

This can give you enough distance to find your center and develop a sense of perspective around what’s going on.

Documenting events, as well as your thoughts and feelings, can serve as a historical record—one that might serve future projects.  

But let’s say that’s not enough. 
A story calls to you. 
You know it has a higher purpose, and you don’t want to lose your momentum. 

How do you keep writing when uncertainty continues? 

Here are some tips that might help you. 

  1. Admit that you’re distracted and that it’s affecting your work. Until you acknowledge what is, you can’t do anything about it. 
  2. Journal to get in touch with your feelings. If you’re afraid, what comfort and reassurances do you need? If you’re angry, what boundaries have been crossed? Where is that anger coming from? How much is related to what’s happening right now? How much is related to unexpressed anger from a past event? What’s underneath that anger? Is it fear, sadness, grief, humiliation, or powerlessness? As you explore these feelings, see if they’re related to your work in progress. Or, can you harness some of that angsty energy and divert it to your writing projects? 
  3. Limit your intake of news and social media. Doom scrolling doesn’t solve the world’s problems. It will, however, inflame your uncomfortable feelings. Consume enough to stay informed and safe, but that’s it.
  4. Commit to practicing self-care. This means healthy food, regular movement, adequate sleep, time for quiet, and time for fun. 
  5. Connect with people who love and support you. Restless minds grow more restless in isolation. Connecting with others can help break that cycle.
  6. Find your center. There’s a still, small place inside all of us that is always calm and always wise. Make a list of practices you’ve developed for finding your center. Then, go practice them. If you’re looking for some new ones, consider the following options: 
    1. Spend five minutes doing alternate nostril breathing.
    2. Close your eyes, inhale, and imagine you’re sending your breath to your solar plexus. Now, imagine there’s a trampoline at the bottom of it. When the air hits the trampoline, it bounces back up and exhales out of your body. Repeat this for five minutes. 
    3. Complete a body scan meditation
    4. Practice Metta Loving Kindness meditation. Metta can give you a positive sense of control at times that feel out of control. 
  7. Once you’ve found your center, consider what right actions you need to take. That might mean anything from speaking out about something, setting a boundary, and recommitting to a project, to beginning or ending a relationship.  I can’t tell you what right actions you should take, but I can tell you that right actions come from a centered place. They’re not always easy or welcome in the short run, but they always serve love and peace. If you’re not sure what actions to take, do nothing other than find and maintain your inner peace. When it’s time for you to do something, you’ll know.  You can use this quote from Viktor Frankl as a guide: “Between stimulus and the response there is a space, in that space is our power to choose our response, in our response lies our growth and our freedom.

Spend time in that space between stimulus and response.
Access your power.
Be in charge of your freedom and growth. 

 If you’re meant to continue with a specific writing project, your muse will stand by you. 

If it’s taking a break, have faith that it will return when the time is right. It’s just giving you space for other, equally important work. 

We will get through this. I have an abiding faith that while January 6, 2021,  knocked me off my center, peace, love, and positive times are ahead of us. 

I believe in you and your work.

As you go through this week, may you be healthy, happy, and in a state of peace. 

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