Making Space for Writing Again

You’d think that the cancellation of all out-of-the-house events would leave us creative types with long leisurely hours in which to create. The trouble is that fear tends to clog up the creative flow. We’re now three weeks (maybe four?) into self-isolating and the active fear of infection has waned. Logically we still know it is a risk, but the animal portion of our brains has calmed down. It can only stay alarmed for so long with nothing physically happening before it calms and goes back to sleep. For several weeks reading news reports was sufficient to re-activate that fear, now it appears I’m even acclimated to that somewhat. So now events are gone and terror has faded. Also we’re two weeks (three? time has gone very wibbly wobbly of late) into schooling from home. The routines of that have settled in. Mostly the routine is me reminding my son that schoolwork exists, him acknowledging that it does, then him ignoring it for the rest of the day. The point is we’ve fallen into patterns, I should have hours in which to create. But I’m not. Because also removed from my schedule are all of the activities where I get outside my box (house) and percolate new ideas. Any errands I have to run are done as efficiently and infection-free as possible rather than me wandering and thinking as I go.

I’ve seen all the memes. The ones which joke about thinking how creative they’d be if only they had time, only to now discover that time was never the problem. I’ve also seen the ones granting permission to not be creative or productive during a world wide pandemic. Neither of these memes nor a dozen more is what I need at this time. Instead, now that other things have fallen into rhythms, I need to look at the circumstances of my life and figure out how to adjust those rhythms to fit in fiction writing. The odds of any fiction I write ever seeing print are small, but the writing and the publishing are two separate endeavors. I can tackle publishing later. For now I need to figure out how to defend a space for fiction writing to live. Then I need to have patience if that space doesn’t immediately fill up with beautiful prose writing. This is a “if you build it they will come” moment. Once my creative brain trusts that the space will be there, it will learn to show up.

In one of my presentations I talk about willpower being a limited resource, and trying to build a creative life comes easier if you require as little willpower as possible to keep it running. What I’ve described in the last paragraph sounds like a space made out of force of will. And it is. I think that is where I have to start, but I also need to be seeking ways to build the creative space so that the rhythms of our lives just naturally flow around that space, leaving it open. It is an interesting challenge, and the first step is figuring out how to get my brain to want to engage with an interesting challenge instead of just hibernating watching Netflix and waiting for the pandemic to be over.