Novel (and) Coronavirus

(see what I did with the title there, oh, so clever am I, hehehe)

I care about most companies’s response to COVID-19 about as much as you care about my response, but since you’re here, I guess I’ll tell you how I’m coping.

Basically, I am fine. I already work from home and have for two years. The only difference for me now is that Husband is also here which provides its own challenges re: dishes, cooking, and distractions. To be clear, I am VERY HAPPY to be distracted by my lovely spouse, but as Joyce Carol Oates says, the greatest enemy of writing is interruption, and as such, I had a dip in productivity the last two weeks. This seems in vast contrast to my fellow writers who have outside-of-the-home jobs but have suddenly found themselves at home with more time than they know what to do with. All this means that I just needed to, personally, step up my game.

That started with getting on a schedule. I was getting up at 6 every morning, taking care of the cats, sending Husband off to work with a smoothie, showering, yoga-ing, throwing in some laundry or doing some of last night’s dishes, and plopping down with something caffeinated by 7:30 for about 4 hours of uninterrupted plotting/writing/revising. But when Husband wasn’t getting up super early, I started getting up when-the-fuck-ever too, and that blew. I’ve found that if I don’t start writing early, the rest of my day is not great–it’s a mental funk I get into. So that got turned around this week, and my productivity is finally on the same projection as the infection rate instead of the Dow Jones.

Also, yoga. If you are a returning Dear Reader, you’ll know I love yoga. My relationship with it over the past four-ish years has waxed and waned, but I’ve always considered myself an active yogi. But in January of this year, I did another of Adriene’s 30 Day Challenges, and haven’t missed a day since. That’s 84 days straight, and every day has been progressively better. I’m not suggesting you too must do yoga to get yourself in order (though I guarantee it would help), but I am saying that having a ritual–and a physical one at that–at the start of your day can make things go that much better.

My bullet journal has also been a bit of a savior if for no other reason that keeping track of the days. Time muddled together those first two weeks, and while it’s never been that important if I’m writing on a Tuesday or a Thursday, it has always been imperative that I keep track of how much I’m getting done in a week and noting if I’m slacking or surprising myself with progress. That knowledge lets me plan for the next week, next month, and the whole year. (Not to pat myself too generously on the back, but I currently have a book release schedule prepped for all the way into mid 2022. It is, obviously, very flexible, and intended to be tweaked as I feel out what’s possible, but so far so good!) It feels a lot less like a global crisis and a lot more like a Wednesday when you’ve got a calendar handy.

Setting boundaries also helped. I explained to Hubs how I was feeling, that I was being so unproductive and needed help getting back on track, and we worked on a plan together. We also rearranged an office space for him. Originally we just threw together a desk in the guest room, but we took time this week to really reorganize and give him room. I didn’t need this since I already have my setup, but giving him a space that he enjoys and can work fluidly in made him more comfortable and less likely to come into my space. We also scheduled calls and video chats with other family members instead of just answering them immediately. This is something I really needed, especially when my “job” can really come off as just a fun hobby instead of work to others. We’ve both protected our work time now, and we both get more done.

Finally, I took a long look at what I’m doing and how much time I have to do it. I will be CampNaNo-ing in April which means I need a completed outline for that project and my revisions for She’s All Thaumaturgy all done by midnight, March 31st. I’m not positive those revisions are going to be done in the next six days, but I know the outline must be, so I made myself a plan that allows for some spillage now that I can see, realistically, what the calendar looks like. I’m being real with myself now, so instead of fretting and feeling bad about myself, I’m just prepping for what needs to be done which is much more productive. My biggest takeaway was this: in December of last year, I planned out all of my 2020, and I stuck to it all through January and February, saying, “Barring something outrageous, I can definitely keep this up all year!” And then something outrageous happened.

These are strange as fuck times. Corona virus, COVID-19, the plague, whatever you want to call it–it’s weird and scary and a whole new thing for us to deal with. It’s changing lives drastically, and I don’t think anyone could have predicted it (who wasn’t a doctor or an economist or an astrologist or whatever), so it’s understandable to have a hitch in your routine. But you gotta keep yourself sane–sometimes that means legit going a little crazy, I get that, but getting yourself together, practicing self-discipline, and focusing your efforts into something worthwhile is sure as shit going to feel a lot better in the long run. I’m not saying don’t binge eat Skittles while you sink deeper into the fourth hour of a Critical Role marathon, just don’t do that every day. Trust me, your spouse will quickly get annoyed at your Jester impression and your cats will start thinking “Eldritch Blast!” means “dinner time.”

At the risk of being overly optomistic, I really wanna say, You got this, Dear Reader! But also, don’t be a fucking idiot and stay the fuck inside unless you absolutely have to go out okay bye.

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