Writing Advice for 2020

Like everyone else, I’m having a rough year.

It started with the issues plaguing everyone – wildfires, COVID-19, murder hornets – and never ceased. Later in the year, my fiancé’s estranged father died. Then, my precious parrot, Jack, flew on a door as it was closing and his beak literally broke. (He’s very much ok by the way! Happy as ever and spoilt by all the care he’s getting!) Last night one of our guinea pigs, Skunk, began chirping loudly. When we took him to the vet it turned out that he had an infection.

My credit card debt rose to a degree I hadn’t seen in years. School is entirely online. Walks are the only time I see people I don’t live with. My friends and I haven’t hugged in months, and my extended family have transformed into bodiless voices on the other end of my cell phone.

So yeah, it is a mess.

One of the ways people have shifted their perspectives is through new hobbies, working out, Netflix, and video games. The latter two are my poison; if I could spend a weekend watching Netflix (or YouTube, really) and playing my Switch I would. For a while it’s been my escape from the business of a new college program and life’s hardships.

However, what ultimately has been calling to me is the desire to grasp my creativity again. It’s especially difficult when my education consists of writing – who wants to write more after they’ve written 3 articles, 2 pitches, and a blog? Well, a lot of us, it seems. For me, while it has been difficult, I have found a few tips critical to my success:

Prompts: One of the most difficult parts of writing after taking a break is the simple act of beginning again. I find prompts to be a great way to get your creative juices flowing again. And who knows? Maybe one will turn into your next great novel.

Pick Your Best Time: Some people work best at night and others like waking up with the sun. I fall towards the latter, so I try to eat breakfast and write before anything else has the chance to distract me.

Finding Your Focus: In a world where writing takes place predominantly on computers, we are easily distracted by the call of the internet. I use Forest, an app that allows you to set a specific amount of time and, as time passes, a tree grows on your screen. As shown on the left here, any tab you open in an attempt to distract yourself is met with this screen. If you give up, Forest informs you that you killed your little tree. And who wants that?

Finding Your Focus: In a world where writing takes place predominantly on computers, we are easily distracted by the call of the internet. I use Forest, an app that allows you to set a specific amount of time and, as time passes, a tree grows on your screen. It’s a simple reward, but humans are simple creatures in the end.

Get it Out: A week or so ago I informed my freelance artist friend that I was having trouble writing creatively. As I told him about my predicament, he found prompt websites for me and told me about his own creative woes – even he, who I had looked at as the epitome of hardworking, is having trouble in 2020. After putting my feelings out in the open, I felt like I wasn’t alone in my difficulties, which helped them smooth over some.

A Good Playlist (optional): Music can be inspirational and calming. It can make you laugh or cry or, hell, even write. It’s powerful stuff. I like to make a playlist from songs that aren’t too distracting and add music as I go. Some songs match the piece I’m working on and others are simply fun to listen to.

I’m sure there are many, many more ways to be productive this year. Ultimately, the takeaway is that you should do what works for you in the end, whether that’s a playlist or an app. There’s no shame in having a difficult time being creative, 2020 or no, and I do hope some of my tips can provide help to those who need it.

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