Story Worms: Lessons from Lockdown

As the world begins to emerge from lockdowns—tired eyes blinking, hair unkempt, fashion more questionable than ever—it’s normal that things feel different. It’s bound to feel like things have shifted: the world, ourselves. We may have changed our focus, or shifted our priorities. We may be feeling that everything is futile, or we might be filled with new passions and vigour. There’s no right or wrong. We feel what we feel.

There are hints of normality, but it’s still wrapped up in an overall strangeness. Change can be difficult, so don’t put too much pressure on yourself. Don’t think that you have to instantly bounce back, slipping flawlessly into the life you had before. Take your time. Reflect. Breathe.

I’ve just returned to the slimming group that I’m a member of; a tiny slice of my previous life restored back to me. In our first session, our consultant asked us two questions: “What do you want to leave in lockdown?” and “What do you want to bring with you out of lockdown?” She encouraged us to think of bad habits we may have adopted through the pandemic, or lifelong habits that, through the filtered lens of lockdown, we had reconsidered. She also urged us to find good habits that we wanted to continue, or something we wanted to start doing from now on.

And it got me thinking about these questions in regards to my writing.

What do I want to leave in lockdown? What do I want to stop doing? Crazy publishing schedules! Over the past few years, I’ve been getting more and more ambitious, and putting more and more pressure on myself to write more, and publish faster. I’m exhausted! I’m stuck in the middle of a crazy publishing schedule right now, and I cannot wait for it to end. I just need to get through to the end of August. And after that? Nothing! I am not booking myself up for any more deadlines for a while.

I need to slow down, step back, and let myself breathe for a while. In a culture that values productivity over everything else, a culture that promotes the need to be constantly producing, a culture that vilifies rest, it’s all too easy to burn yourself out. Even when your deadlines are self imposed. It’s OK to rest. It’s OK to take time off. We need it, and it will help us return to work refreshed, healthier, and more motivated.

So, what do I want to bring with me out of lockdown? What do I want to do more of? Events. With events being forced online and into virtual spaces, I’ve been able to attend so many more. Workshops, webinars, panels, conventions. Sometimes as a speaker, sometimes a spectator. I’ve been able to attend events all over the world, that I never could have attended in person. I’ve been able to attend so many more. And I’ve taken a chance on events I likely wouldn’t have committed to if they’d required travel, accommodation, getting dressed.

I really hope that we see these virtual events and online opportunities continue, and I intend to continue making the most of them. I want to be more active in that respect. I want to take the time to learn new things and improve on what I’m doing.

So now it’s over to you: what do you want to leave in lockdown, and what do you want to bring out of it?

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