How To Stay Creative When The World Is On Fire

Raise your hand if you’ve been having trouble concentrating this last week. With Coronavirus sweeping the world, it’s been hard to think about anything other than keeping your #SocialDistance and what you will do now it’s impossible to find toilet paper.

If you’re lucky enough to be able to work from home, you’re also facing the new challenges of staying on task. As someone who has worked from home for years, I know that the lure of wandering to the kitchen for a snack every ten minutes is strong. I also know that sitting down to eat lunch with the TV “in the background” can quickly turn into an afternoon of watching Medium reruns instead of working.

With everything happening in the world, there’s also plenty of writing hours lost to checking news cycles and Twitter feeds, which only amps up your anxiety and zaps all your creative energy.

I’ve been feeling this too, but I’ve still got a job to do and books to write, so here are some tips for getting back to your keyboard.

How To Stay Creative When The World Is On Fire

Escape Into A Book Or TV Series

Even though you’re trying to make progress on your own work, if you’re finding it hard to do that, you might need to escape for a little while into a book or TV series that will spark your creativeness.

I recently borrowed a book from my local library (Ryan La Sala’s Reverie) and have been watching the rebooted Amazing Stories series on Apple TV.

When you read a good book or watch a great TV show, it’s hard not to get creative yourself.

Allow yourself to escape into a different world for a while and see if it helps. You might even like a little book I know of that features a small town, an MC with memory loss, witches, magical powers, a dark forest, and a mystery to solve. This shameless self-promotion has been brought to you by my debut, Blackbirch: The Beginning, which you can learn more about/buy here.

Recharge With Exercise

If you can still leave your house, and the weather permits, get yourself some fresh air and go for a walk. If you’re stuck indoors, do anything that’ll get your body moving (exercise bike, exercise DVDs/YouTube videos/Apps, etc).

I often find that plot ideas and breakthroughs come to me when I’m working out and letting my mind wander. Keeping your body healthy is also important, especially in times like these. You should also find yourself more refreshed after exercising and full of endorphins, which is perfect for creating!

Connect With Others

Not only is it a good idea to connect with others during times of isolation (and please check on anyone vulnerable with a phone/video call), but if you’re stuck for inspiration, chances are someone else is too.

Reach out to the online writing community, who’ve been hanging out in self-isolation before it was mandatory, and get talking about what has you stuck. Ask other writers how they’re continuing to work and if they have any tips. Even discussing your fears with them or a trusted friend or family member will go a long way to helping clear your head and get back to your WIP.

Remind Yourself Of Your Why

Why do you write? There’s got to be a reason and chances are that hasn’t changed just because the world is out of sync right now. Remind yourself of your why and get writing again.

Know That It’s Temporary

It might not feel like it, or we might not know how long this new world order will be in place, but it will eventually pass and things will evolve into a new normal. In the meantime, you could have had that edit finished, that book outlined, or those blog posts stockpiled like the hoarders who stole everyone’s toilet paper and hand wash.

Don’t Forget That People Need Books

If we’re going to be in lock-down or self-isolation for a while, the world needs books. There is only so much Netflix you can watch or so many rounds of Monopoly you can take before the game tears you and your loved ones apart.

Finish your book, get things written, share what you can with the world while we’re all looking for things to fill time and brighten our day.

Create And Stick To A Routine

The world might be on fire, but it’s still turning. If the previous tips haven’t gotten you back into your usual writing mode, create yourself a routine and stick with it.

That could mean writing for the first hour of the day or doing a twenty-minute writing sprint every hour. You could even try putting your phone away and turning off the Internet so you stay away from those distracting news cycles. There are ways to get back into writing when you don’t feel like it, and the most important and easiest way to do that is to just start.

Let Go Of The Guilt

It’s okay to be overwhelmed with the world, and it’s perfectly fine to take a break if you need to. Don’t let the guilt of not writing stop you from writing, though. Feel what you need to feel and then feel your way back into your WIP.

Writers know the power of words and how just the simple act of stringing them into sentences can save you. Remember that when things feel hopeless and let it fuel your creativeness. It’s something we’re all going to need in the next few months and beyond.

— K.M. Allan

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38 thoughts on “How To Stay Creative When The World Is On Fire

  1. I have been having trouble concentrating. I have worked from home for a long time and do follow most of your suggestions. It’s when a news alert pops up in the middle of my work time–how can I skip it? Sigh. The fire will burn out. I just know it.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Even though my situation hasn’t really changed much (I already work at home, am normally pretty isolated due to my social anxiety) I am finding all those craziness overwhelming and I’m in a downward spiral.

    I can’t seem to focus on anything and you’re right, guilt gets in there and I’m definitely working on trying to let go of that.

    Hope you’re okay, stay safe

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Thanks for these tips, writing is essential for my sanity. A bigger problem for me right now is getting my tired and anxious head back into the business of publishing and marketing – I’ve completed three books in a new kids’ series and I need to get them out there!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I’m not so sure this change in our daily lives is all that temporary. We may be embarking on a new strain of “normal”.

    I have a large garbage bag filled with books I was to distribute. My only problem is who out there is willing to take them off my hands. The used book store in town seems to be closed. I doubt the library is open, although I haven’t tried calling them yet. I guess I’m going to have to make a project out of this.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. It is exactly when things around me seem to be going to hell and the rug is about to be pulled from under my feet that I manage to write more and stick to it. Writing is my fugue, which can be a very bad thing – I’m the ostrich and writing is the hole I stick my head into – for it means I keep running away from problems and pretending they don’t exist, it also means I produce a lot of work. My health and a few family problems had me away from my laptop for quite a while, lately, but the moment this coronavirus took hold and things started to go crazy, I found myself back to my favoured working place, and penning down most of a book in less than two weeks. I’d had the story in my head for quite sometime, but simply could not work on it, nor could I bring myself to want to do it. The moment I really needed a fugue from my headspace, bam! I was writing again, and hardly pausing for eating. I don’t say this in a snide, haughty manner because only I know how bad this can be for me, and how over the years I’ve isolated myself from others and became lost inside my dream worlds only so I didn’t have to face all that I was going through. My writing is usually an unhealthy escape plan, something akin to drugs or booze that serves to numb me from reality, but at this moment, I feel it’s the best thing I can do, actually. Just sit down and write.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Good point! It’s like, shouldn’t I be hunting for food? Because it feels like we are in some sort of apocalypse. Everything else is bizarre but we are just supposed to act like it’s business as usual.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Definitely raising my hand over here. But I have tried to stay busy, a little writing, a little reading, a little exercise, a little cleaning, a little TV each day. It helps.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. It does get very depressing when all there seems to be on the news is Covid-19 and how many deaths, how many new infections and the stupidity and selfishness of some people. I heard a psychologist on the TV talking about this, She said we should restrict our viewing of news to between 1/2 and 1 hour per day. Sounds sensible to me.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. petespringerauthor

    I was not myself last week. I am a creature of habit, and it feels like my routines have gone amok. I’ve been retired for three years, so I’m already home a lot, but it still felt different. 1. I start days out by going to the gym. I miss that physical time and social interaction of running into my retired friends there. 2. My critique group, who was already meeting infrequently, to begin with, is now on a self-imposed break. I miss not only the help and support we gave each other but the human interaction. 3. I didn’t feel creative at all. Writing should be one of the things that take my mind off all of the craziness, but it was the last thing I felt like doing. As an extrovert, I miss being around other humans.

    This week I’m going to do better; no pity parties allowed. It’s time to suck it up and adjust.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Totally understand, Pete. I normally work from home too, so this hasn’t really changed my routine, but mentally it has really stopped me from writing. We’re in a “stay-home- if-you-can” type of lockdown right now and you certain don’t miss the freedom of going out until you can’t/shouldn’t. Stay safe.


  10. I am having such a tough time right now. This is all good advice and I will work through these ideas. I do feel like the world is on fire and it’s easy to get into that hopeless place. Thanks for the post. I will be linking on my blog.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Rosie. It really is a tough time right now, so don’t be too hard on yourself. We all definitely need to take the time to adjust to this new normal.


  11. I swear you were writing directly to me, kid.

    Everything you mentioned I do. For me, excising is key. It’s not just good for the body but the mind as well. Routine is healthy. It gives us a purpose. The other thing that I’ve learned is to be careful of the news. Yes, we need to educate ourselves, but to much of it will mess with our heads.

    Stay safe. We’ll survive this.

    Liked by 1 person

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