A pandemic and writing? Who me? Yes, just like you, or like you in ways we could count, and just is poorly equipped. Our only good choice is to rise to the occasion as best we can.
Many of you know I live at a Zen Center just south of San Diego and just north of Tijuana, and our border with Mexico. We have about 20 people living in 10 cottages, and a couple of rooms situated on a large city property with some truly lovely gardens as well as meditation spaces. I’ve been here maybe eight years and it’s proven to be an ideal writing space — with as much or as little interaction with others, both inside and outside of the community as I want.
On March 11, the Covid-19 world around infection was declared a pandemic. Like many freelancers, in spite of warnings that a pandemic would come, I never expected I’d be experience a pandemic and writing at the same time; who did?.
I went down to a nasty case of bronchitis probably on Saturday March 9. I’m familiar with bronchitis and simply went to bed taking allergy meds to stop my post nasal drip. I slept through the worst of it for about a week, hardly aware of what was going on in the world, and feeling badly enough so I didn’t care. As I got better I realized the my world had made one heck of a transition while I was sick. I began to get bits and pieces of writing done between lots of naps. I stayed home. It was raining most of the time, unusual in southern California this time of year. I kept getting better and began to attend some meetings, by this time on Zoom.
One of my truths is I haven’t been off the SWZC campus for four weeks… and I mean I haven’t stepped outside of the property, even to cross the street. Of course, I’m used to spending gobs of time alone and working at home. It was pretty easy to slide into social distancing and not going places, particularly since I wasn’t feeling well. The need to cancel a regular Friday face-t0-face meeting that I always enjoy brought the reality of what was happening home to me and I didn’t like it a bit.
Zoom to the rescue
I’ve been involved in the virtual world since 300 baud — a long time and I’ve never liked virtual meetings much. Until now, that is. I suspect the difference is I can’t/won’t get out to see people except those in our community. We stand or sit at least six feet apart and talk whatever we talk about. It’s odd, but it’s better than many people have it.
Virtual meeting technology has changed for the better. A Zoom meeting allows us to see each other through the marvels of video — which means I either don’t turn my camera on or make sure my hair is combed, my shirt clean and my everyday makeup is done. We held a group meeting the other day here at the center and there we were, about eight of us all lined up with headshots. It was great to see we were all alive, but there’s not much animation in a group that size. I liked much better the one-on-one meeting I had with the CFO of Democracy Counts. Since I’m the COO, it’s important we get together and this worked; not quite as well as our f-2-f meetings, but far better than only a phone call.
In the US, use this link to get the software and set up 40 minute meetings for free: https://zoom.us/
You can meet with clients on Zoom, colleagues, friends, family and even potential clients. Figure out how to use it and how to send invitations which will make it easy for folks to join you.
Get started writing ASAP
If you’ve been away from your writing, regardless of the reason, get back to it right now! Yes, you can experience both a pandemic and writing. In fact, your reaction to the pandemic is an important thing to write about, if for no other reason it will help you sort through your feelings. Polish it up and post it on your blog or submit it somewhere; chances are someone will find it helpful.
I’ve found I haven’t lost my writing skills, but they do feel unpracticed. My fingers aren’t quite as fast as coming up with words and ideas as they were a month ago. And I can feel my writing habits return. Yea! But it’s only by actually putting words on the screen that I found that out.
A forum can really help ease feelings of isolation
As you well know, freelance writers often suffer from too much isolation — it’s just too easy to let ourselves get lonely. Now, with everyone self-isolating, we simply must figure out ways to feel connected with our world and its people.
[And here comes the shameless self promo ;- ) ] A supportive writer’s forum can be a true blessing, and I’ve got one for you. It’s called About Freelance Writing’s Five Buck Forum. It’s created and sponsored by me, originally with Lori Widmer who is still a member. It’s called the Five Buck Forum because that’s exactly what it costs — $5 a month! You can pay it monthly or you can get a big $5 discount and pay it at $55 a month annually.
We’d love to have you there… feel free to email me with questions.
Gratitude and meditation
There are studies that prove gratitude helps boost the immune system. And I personally love the way I feel when I move from stress, say, or anger, or sadness to gratitude. Meditation can facilitate that. And even just a pause to listen to your intuition or still small voice is a totally acceptable form of brief meditation. Getting curious is another trick of mine and I’m certainly curious about both the pandemic and writing.
Write well and often,
Originally published at https://www.aboutfreelancewriting.com on March 23, 2020.