Eight things to try while you’re waiting to get your post-election groove back By Andromeda Romano-Lax

This morning I spent one hour listening to a webinar about social media for writers. Don’t groan—it was time well spent. (More on that topic next month.) But somehow after that, beteen 11 am and 2 pm, I did little more than eat two rounds of toast, futz around with Instagram Reels, communicate with my daughter repeatedly via audio-text, and attempt calls to the doctor who seemed to be ignoring my scheduled phone appointment. I also remembered to feed two dogs. This is COVID life.

It’s one thing to “waste” time on news or social media. It’s another thing when you aren’t even doing that with purpose or focus and yet somehow, hours fly by.

We are still in post-election, pre-inauguration, middle-of-a-pandemic mode. It is time, simultaneously, to both take control of our attention spans and our creative lives while also, paradoxically, letting go of the idea that we will manage to control anything perfectly.

It’s not enough to say we should all just get offline and unplugged, and start being literary again. Because here’s one thing about being a writer while the world burns: If we pay too much attention to every flame-up, we don’t write. If we don’t pay attention, we are missing out on the history-in-the-making and culture-in-the-changing that is the context for serious literature.

I justified endless news consumption over the last few weeks by remembering that I am a historical novelist, and if I could ever magically travel back to the Blitz or the Spanish Civil War or any other period I’ve written about, I would want to put my finger on the pulse. Well, here we are, in a blitzy, fiery, uncivil period of our own. And recently, social media and the news, as well as texts, emails and Zooms with friends and family, have been the pulse.

It all takes time.

Giving in is the easy part of the equation. The harder part is grabbing the reins again: turning down the volume knob, putting some boxes around some time slots and finding ways to escape the noise. I’ll spare you the recommendation to get outside and exercise—most of you are probably already doing that. Here are a few other things I’ve found helpful this week:

• Be extra realistic about focus time, for example, 90 minutes of writing or revision is great. I may want five solid hours without interruptions, but I’m better at dealing in smaller chunks.

• Read someone else’s unpublished creative work. Can’t focus on your own? This might be an ideal time to offer critique services to a friend, especially if you do a mutual swap involving a small number of pages and set a tight deadline. I slipped easily into others’ words this week even when I couldn’t write my own.

• Create a deadline. Promise someone—peer reader, coach, agent, friend—that you are going to email them a specific draft at the end of the day or week.

• Write something completely different. Stalled out on your book project? Maybe it’s time to write one short essay for Medium.com. (Anyone can post there.) Make it short; don’t try to create a masterpiece; don’t spend more than a day.

• Write a letter to yourself via futureme.org.

If all that is still overwhelming but you want to feel like you’re doing something positive as a writer/reader, how about:

• Post three reviews on Goodreads or Amazon about books you’ve loved—extra credit if each one is by a lesser-known writer who doesn’t have over 5000 ratings. We authors need these reviews and are grateful for them. Don’t know where to start? If you’re a fan of Sherry Simpson, who passed away this fall, how about starting with one of her books?

• Buy a book, and maybe let the world know you did so. I was frantic the day after the election and I succeeded in briefly soothing my nerves with a new audiobook by a debut author. I posted a photo online of the audiobook I purchased.

• Write an email to an author, especially if she is not a celebrity. Express your love of literature with someone who might really like to hear it this month, a time when many of us have worried whether stories can really change the world.

A month from now, I think we’ll be less frantic. I certainly hope so. In the meanwhile, be well, keep reading and writing, and let me know what’s helping you along the road back to normal.

Andromeda Romano-Lax is a Book Coach and 49 Writers co-founder. Her newest novel, ANNIE AND THE WOLVES, a “winning anthem of female power” (Publishers Weekly) and a “morally complex, genre-smashing thriller” (Eowyn Ivey) will be published February 2021. Visit her at www.romanolax.com or on Instagram at Romanolax.

2 thoughts on “Eight things to try while you’re waiting to get your post-election groove back By Andromeda Romano-Lax”

  1. Thanks, Andromeda. I recommend many of the things you listed in your post. I’ve also found inspiration from some of the virtual writing workshops out there–one by Damon Suede helped me through a rough spot in my manuscript.

  2. Maureen “Mo” Longworth

    I’ve been finding one thing a day that fills me with spontaneous awe or wonder. And I try to take a photo of it. The physical experience of it.
    I realize now after reading your ideas, Andromeda, that I could consider writing something about a picture too.
    I have barely written since i stopped my daily Covid symptom journaling when I realized i was having more normal days most days and didn’t want to dwell on the symptoms when they recur. But I’ve found it hard to get an angle on writing about this whole pandemic experience.

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