Getting Back Into Writing After The Pandemic
I’ll never forget talking to my friend about getting laid off from my job as COVID-19 wreaked havoc across the world. In a desperate attempt to calm my nerves, my friend threw a Hail Mary pass and said, “Now you’ll have all this time to write your novel!” But it wasn’t exactly the “time” I was hoping for and I didn’t write a single word during quarantine.
And I am finally able to be okay with that.
It took months to realize that I was experiencing trauma. My world turned upside down in a matter of days with no answers as to how long or what repercussions lay on the horizon. I couldn’t be with long distance family members and could only seek comfort from friends via phone or video chat. It was lonely and scary. But now, as everything slowly returns to normal, I’m left with trying to figure out where I go from here. Healing from trauma looks different for everybody, but here are some suggestions to get back into your creative work as you heal.
Leave The Past In The Past
As mentioned before, I was feeling a lot of pressure, both external and internal, to write during quarantine, but it just wasn’t happening. I was drowning in anxious thoughts and missing my long distance family and friends. Sometimes just getting out of bed to put on real pants was a struggle, let alone typing 1000 or even 100 words. And I beat myself up about it. Every. Single. Day.
I realized taking the time to ease my mind with silly movies, a walk outside, or snuggling my dog was what I really needed, and still sometimes do. Berating myself for what I didn’t do yesterday wasn’t going to get anything done today. Take a step back to recharge when needed and never shame yourself for not getting work done.
Set Low Word Count Goals
The blank page can seem a bit more daunting after coming back from a long break. Do yourself a favor and make the blinking cursor seem less intimidating by setting low word count goals. When I was finally ready to sit down and focus on my creative work, I told myself to only type 100 words. Most days, I was able to type well beyond that, but it was easier to get my butt in the chair knowing that I was only expected to write a handful of words.
Respect where you are and set goals that feel approachable. Low word count goals help you flex and strengthen your creative muscle. Anything can become a habit with enough time and consistency, so be sure to set goals that entice you to keep at it as mental wounds begin to scar over.
Honor Your True Self
A lot of us are not the same person after a traumatic event. Whether it be loss of a loved one, a job loss, or your whole world turned upside down, there are a lot of changes that come with trauma. For me, I noticed I was no longer the same writer either.
Experiencing the year 2020 made me realize I wanted to be an advocate for social change by uplifting stories that are usually suppressed and unheard through my writing. I needed to allow myself to change and the grace to relearn when it came to my creative work. It can be scary to write about the things you are passionate about, especially if it was something you never did before, but writing about the things that matter to you can help make sense of what hurt you, which in turn can help aid in the healing process.
As I dive into more creative assignments, I find myself becoming mentally exhausted quicker and take days off from writing to recharge. It took a while to grant myself time to rest, especially when I thought all those days with my weighted blanket and Netflix during quarantine were exactly that. But no one experiences true rest while undergoing trauma. Healing comes after the injury, so take as much time as you need to recover and remember that you don’t need anyone’s permission to rest.
Just like physical injuries, there are many different levels and layers to trauma. Healing is not linear and everyone gets there in their own time. Honor your journey and know that there is no shame should you need to seek professional guidance on the way.
I wish you all nothing but the best as you continue to navigate your new normal and get words back on your page.
Written by Kimberly Straub
Kimberly Straub holds a B.A. in English Literature and Writing from Grand Valley State University. She has placed in numerous writing contests including Scribbler's microfiction contest and has been a guest writer for multiple blogs. When not writing she teaches songwriting classes and plays guitar in Grand Rapids Michigan. Follow her writing journey at @kimberlymariestraub on Instagram.