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I’ve Done Nothing During Quarantine And I’m Fine With That

Silk + Smoke guest blogger Georgina Wilkinson writes on the constant pressure to be productive and creative under lockdown in this love letter to overachievers and procrastinators alike.

It’s not exactly a Hot Take to say that our lives have changed more in the past few weeks than any of us thought possible – we can’t get haircuts, we can’t buy ice cream, and – most tragically – we can’t sit in beer gardens to take advantage of the sunshine. As soon as lockdown was announced, we knew those things would be changing, and a big part of what’s seeing us through is knowing that, in time, they’ll be coming back.

In the meantime, however, there’s this horrible pressure to get on with business as usual. Being stuck inside means that suddenly all the time we used to spend seeing friends and family, indulging in such luxuries as sitting in parks and congregating in groups of more than three, is just empty – which in turn, leads to an overwhelming urge to fill it. 

There’s a deeply destructive perception that any time that we’re not being productive is time wasted. This is uncomfortably pervasive at the best of times, but without our normal social lives to distract us it’s beginning to become suffocating.

The transition to working from home has brought many of our offices into our bedrooms; work becomes inescapable as huge computers are crammed onto cramped desks, surrounded by hairbands and makeup and scraps of whatever was going on in our lives before this fire-drill of an apocalypse, hastily swept out of the way to make space.

Our offices are now inescapable, and for a generation whose worth has been so intrinsically tied to our productivity, this makes it uncomfortably tempting to put in the extra hours, starting earlier and staying later than we ever would in the office for no extra pay. Without co-workers hanging about, breaks become boring and we go back to what we were doing earlier than we should just for something to do. 

This compulsion to produce is reaching into our downtime as well. After a full week at work, I usually feel absolutely justified in a lie in and maybe one or two plans over the weekend, but leaving the house makes it easy to forget that social interaction itself is something that takes effort. I find myself trapped in an interminable cycle of Zoom calls and Skype catch-ups, since quarantine makes such an easy excuse to see old friends – people who live far away, or in different time zones, suddenly have the space in their schedule to sit on a Zoom call in the middle of the afternoon, or can stay up late since they don’t have to get up early for their commute.

When we’re not frantically clinging to the people we love in the best way we can, we feel like we need to create – eggs and flour have vanished from supermarket shelves as more people than ever have started baking. Links to various blogs, podcasts, and YouTube channels are plastered across social media. It’s exhausting. 

So, this is it. This is the sign you’ve been looking for – this is your permission to not be productive. Nothing great was ever made out of obligation. The compulsion to create things is an incredible one, and is one you should act on as wholeheartedly as you possibly can, but it’s not something worth manufacturing.

When the urge takes you, then jump headfirst into it – make pasta from scratch, use up old tubes of paint to decorate wine bottles and postcards, write, draw, dance, sing, put the best of yourself into the world in whatever small way you can. Until then, look after yourself and the people around you. Wash your hands, stay inside, stare at your friends and family through computers and phones. Do the best you can with what you have, and remember that you are more than your ability to create things.  

Georgina recently graduated from a Masters in Fantasy; she now writes feature articles, creative nonfiction, and poetry whenever she can be bothered. The rest of the time, she watches too many sitcoms and argues passionately with the people she loves about things that don’t really matter. Follow Georgina on Twitter here and read more on her blog, Georgia Can’t Shut Up.

5 essential podcasts and vlogs for writers

You’ve finally got it. A story idea you’re so excited about that you throw the covers off, jump out of bed in the middle of the night, and start scribbling down the words formulating in your head before they slip away.

You have a clear idea of the plot, you can envision your characters, and you have the perfect ending already mapped out.

But even if the first draft of your story goes that smoothly (which it rarely does), is that enough?

Regularly checking-in with helpful writing resources can open your eyes to new techniques you may not have considered before (story arcs, showing v. telling, scheduled writing v. binge-writing).

These tips and tricks will help you polish up your million-dollar idea into a well-considered, three-dimensional narrative that isn’t riddled with plot holes or cringe-worthy cliches.

Here is our pick of 5 essential writing podcasts and vlogs that will help you refine your skills and master your craft:

1) The Writer Files

Hosted by Kelton Reid, The Writer Files ‘studies the habits, habitats, and brains of a wide spectrum of renowned writers’.

Not only does the podcast comprise interviews with critically-acclaimed authors of fiction and nonfiction, journalists, content marketers, and freelancers, The Writer Files also investigates the neuroscience behind writing and productivity.

The Writer Files is an engaging, informative, easy-listening podcast with unique insights into the writing process and the minds of some of the world’s most prolific writers.

Start with: The Best of ‘The Writer’s Brain’ Part One: Creativity

2) iWriterly

Meg LaTorre hosts YouTube channel iWriterly where she shares tutorials on how to plan and execute your novel writing, approach literary agents, and write pitches and synopses.

iWriterly is your ‘go-to resource for all things writing with an entrepreneurial spin’ and covers a spectrum of different topics from literary techniques to the business of writing.

Whether you need help with character development, plot, dialogue, or story arcs, Meg has created a handy library of resources that take you step-by-step through some of the most complex and daunting aspects of writing.

Start with: How to Start Writing a Novel in 9 Easy Steps

3) Writing with Jenna Moreci

Writer and vlogger Jenna Moreci’s corner of the internet adds some comic relief to the sweet misery of writing.

On Writing with Jenna Moreci is a great vlog on the intricacies of writing and editing. With videos on topics such as first-person vs. third-person, the worst fantasy tropes ever, and 10 tips on pacing your book, this channel offers writers’ practical advice and great tips to take away.

If you have just finished your first full draft of a story and you’re looking for new ways to tighten up your narrative, head over to Jenna’s channel. Her videos will encourage you to look at your story with fresh eyes and consider editing techniques that will help you get your draft ready for publication.

Start with: Writing First Person vs. Third Person POV

4) The Story Studio

Sterling and Stone presents The Story Studio is a podcast dedicated to conversations surrounding how we can all tell our stories better.

The Story Studio preaches that ‘in our crowded world, “knowing your story” cuts through the noise so you can make your mark — whether you want to sell more books, increase profits, or just make a difference. At Sterling & Stone, Story is our business.’

If you’re looking for an insightful, thought-provoking listen on topics such as great villains, how our childhoods inform our storytelling, and even storytelling in video games, this podcast is the one for you.

Start with: Adapting a Story for Film and TV

5) The Script Shop

Hosted by Allyson West and Jack Crumley, Script Shop delves into the world of writing for stage and screen.

Allyson and Jack believe ‘all writers have a true human connection to their work. We highlight this connection by featuring a different script and talking shop with its screenwriter each week.’

This great podcast hosts an impressive line-up of scriptwriters, well-versed in writing powerful dialogue and creating multidimensional productions.

Exploring topics including the human nature behind writing, theme inspiration, and visual storytelling through set design, photography, and cinema, Script Shop is a must listen for aspiring scriptwriters.

Start with: Our Dirty Laundry | Kimberly Solimin | Script Shop Episode 060

Do you listen to any of these podcasts? Let us know what you think in the comment section below.