Covid fatigue is a bear. Despite the camaraderie of our writing group we were running flat after 2 years of weekly 2 hour sessions. “How do we get re-inspired and re-motivated,” was the burning question. And, as the group’s leader, I was charged with the personal challenge to find a way to wake us all up.
For 10 years I have written BA50 blogs every Monday except for a few breaks…that’s over 500 blogs! Our writing group has been writing every week for 2 years, that’s almost 100 writing prompts, meetings, edits and sharing. It’s no wonder we were feeling a bit depleted. The “stuck” issue in our writing group certainly has spill over into our daily lives. The same questions apply to both…how do we keep our minds and relationships fresh? After 50-something years, how do we keep ourselves motivated and stimulated? How do we re-charge?
On top of this, energy dip, these past 10 days I’ve been isolating from Omicron. On the Covid rabbit hole topic, all I want to say about it is, I got it, I’m fine, and I infected NO ONE thank God.
While in isolation I had to face the reality that I wasn’t working on my writing and I wanted to. Every time I sat down to work on BA50, the workshop or my screenplay that I hadn’t picked up since last April…I would find another distraction. An urgent desire to skim through instagram reels instead of teaching myself how to make one. A search into google docs to find the first scene to edit ended up with a deep dive into gorging on 5 years of photos. Working on a piece for BA50’s Fashion Friday led me to ordering a new pair of jeans and some Neutrogena hyaluronic acid lipgloss.
And per usual, I would spin away the hours and fall into the vortex of unfocused unproductively.
So this Tuesday’s writing group meeting started with a cry for help. “Hey guys, is anyone having a hard time focusing lately?” They all nodded in agreement.
“Yes,” said Ellen. “I couldn’t write this week. I’m sorry. I feel so flat, I have nothing to say, I’m uninspired.”
And one by one we admitted defeat. Everyone chimed in that the January blahs had coated their brains with a heaviness that was killing their creativity.
“Ok, ok,” I was starting to feel my pulse again, “Me too. So let’s try this…( I was grasping at anything at this point), I’m going to open a google doc, invite you all in, and we are going to all write together. I will give you the prompt now and just add a sentence or two to whatever someone is typing. It sounds like chaos and, it may be, but just like Anne Lamott instructed us in Bird by Bird, we are going to write a “shitty first draft” together and see if we can get our juices flowing.”
And, for the next 30 minutes pure chaos reigned. Plus, we had no finished piece when we were done. But, we laughed a ton, our energy levels were lifted and we started to brainstorm how to make ourselves sit and write more.
“I wish we could sit in a room together and write like we did at our writing workshop in New Hampshire in November. I was so productive then. The energy of you guys around me, writing at the same time in the same room and not talking was incredible,” said Joanie.
“Let’s recreate that virtually,” I chimed in.
“I write with my other writing group on zoom or Facetime depending how many want to join in and that works for me,” Ginny suggested.
“What, you write and zoom?”
“Yup, we mute ourselves and write and we just work.”
“That’s it. I’m game. We can co-create! I have no idea why or how that would be motivating but a virtual babysitter in view on our iphones, not audible, seems like a risk free idea.”
“Who wants to write and face time with me this week? I would love a partner for the next 6 days so I can finish editing.”
And, just like that we had a structure in place. At least I did. I wrote every morning for a few hours with a writing partner who I only talked to for a few minutes before we muted each other. And then we set our writing intentions for example:
“For the next 2 hours I”m going to try to get through 2 scenes.” Or, “I’m going to work on this week’s blog.”
It sets the intention without being too rigid because of course we have to review what we did last night, or watched or ate for dinner before we even begin to work. But after a few minutes of visiting, we agree to mute our phones and the focus begins and so does the magic.
This new strategy has been the most productive consistent writing I can remember doing without going on a writing retreat. It dawned on me that although my isolation from Covid is over now, my new writing strategy was a silver lining I could never have imagined.
To jump start your writing, get motivated and have some fun, please join me along with writing coach Robin Finn on Thursday, Feb 10 from 7 to 9 pm. The bar will be open as well. Click here to sign up.