Writing During the Quarantine

During this time of the COVID-19 pandemic, I’ve followed Twitter threads where writers share their experiences of writing in such a time as this. Some writers stated that they have found the extra time very productive for writing, others expressed difficulty in writing because of upended routines, and still others said that during this time, their writing has altogether ceased. For well over a month I identified with the last group. But now, I’m in the first group. What changed?

For one, I eventually established a rhythm for teaching my four classes online after my university moved its courses to remote learning. Those few weeks were rough, trying to reconfigure the course materials to fit an online environment. I had no mental reserves left for drafting or revising.

Second, I’ve been reading more, specifically some Thoreau and Dostoevsky. I’ve been catching up on my favorite magazines: Plough, First Things, Poets & Writers, & The New Yorker. I’ve savored three or four back issues of my favorite literary quarterly: Dappled Things.

Third, once I was working from home in late March, I resumed the weekly practice of swapping drafts of creative pieces with a good friend. I was rummaging through virtual folders for early drafts of short stories to send him, and as we’ve been meeting regularly for over a month, I have found our discussions moved me into revision, which I’ve also found easier than writing first drafts.

It feels good to have finished a second draft of a short story, to be reworking a creative nonfiction piece, to be working on the second draft of a different short story. I’ve made a leap, and landed safely, writing regularly. This post is just one more piece that has been a long time coming.

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