We’ve all seen it floating around, haven’t we? Shakespeare wrote King Lear when sheltering from the plague. Newton discovered gravity when he was in lockdown. Therefore, we all *should* finally create that masterpiece we’ve always known we had in us but have just never had the time for.
Same goes for all those people home-schooling offspring of various ages and dispositions. The need to fill every hour with curriculum-approved activities. Trigonometry at 9am! The Triple Alliance at 10am. Basic economics at 11am.
Horse, and indeed, shit.
Writing is my main job. My secondary, freelance, pays-the-bills job, has completely dried up. I haven’t had any work since last week and I don’t know when I’ll get any more. Soon, I hope, but that’s up to others, not me.
So I don’t have day-job. I don’t have a looming deadline. I should be banging out those words left, right and centre, 5,000 a day, here come all my award nominations for this groundbreaking examination of whatever. But I’m not. I’m lucky if I hit 1,000 words on my Black Library commission and I’m not working on anything else at all, which is way below my normal average even when day-jobbing.
Why? Because I’m scared. I’m not sleeping well, I’m tired all the time, I have zero motivation. The words are there, but I can’t access them. There’s no flow. There’s just low-grade, numbing anxiety that won’t go away. So I’m barely writing.
AND THAT’S OKAY (the barely writing bit).
We are living through unprecedented times. We are conditioned to be busy at all times and now that so many of us are being forced into inactivity, the impulse is to immediately fill the day with our dream project. I want to write. I want to redraft the second book in my new series now that I’ve done the structural edit on the first, but I don’t have the capacity to do it right now. I have the time, I have the desire, but I don’t have the capacity. Being creative is hard for me right now; maybe it’s hard for you too?
So if you’ve always wanted to write your King Lear, and you know this is the perfect time and you may never get this opportunity again and this is it, man, seize the day! … and yet you can’t, be kind to yourself. It’s not you; it’s the state of the world.
Self-care comes in many forms, and if that means turning your back on a passion project for a while, then that’s what you do. I know a good friend who’s done just that, and I know they’ll come back to it eventually – when the time is right for them.
So take care of yourselves and your loved ones, do what you can to keep others healthy – mentally, emotionally and physically – and if and when you have the time and will, your King Lear will be waiting. I promise.
But don’t just take it from me – listen to the Doctor.
Stay at home. Protect the NHS/your doctors and hospitals. Save lives.
Currently reading: Camelot, Giles Kristian
Currently watching: The Untamed, Netflix
Currently listening: Alter Bridge, Walk the Sky
Currently writing: Black Library commission