For many of us, the recession means more time: there’s less (or no) work, and less (or no) money for entertainment. Within limits, this can be a good thing for a writing practice, which in turn is a good thing for our lives. Ready to find a silver lining in the gloom and doom? Read on.
Whether your schedule has changed recently, or you just want to carve out regular time for your most important, if unpaid, work, these suggestions will help you to re-imagine your days. You might start each day’s writing session with a prompt or exercise, or you might dedicate a portion of each day to your novel. Try to write at the same time each day, if possible. A regular schedule staves off writer’s block and provides a sense of stability and well-being.
You may well ask, “What market?” Well, journals are still being printed, and even small publishers press on (excuse the pun). Use this time to think about where your writing might fit — and even start submitting work. In addition to taking a first step toward publishing your writing, you’re likely to discover at least a few writers whose work inspires you.
3. Or Put Publishing on Pause.
Better yet, use this time to write without thinking about publishing at all. In taking publishing off the table, we open up to other possibilities. What will we write without that distraction? Might our work be more innovative, more original as a result?
Instead of writing for the market, write purely about what interests you, no matter how strange or seemingly unmarketable it might be. Writing has always been a tough career choice: even in the best of times, authors wrote out of some intrinsic need or a deep enjoyment. Touch base with your original impulses for writing now.
4. Read More.
Even if you have a lot of time on your hands, you’ll find that you can’t realistically spend a whole day writing — no matter how good it sounds. Stay motivated with books about craft or the writing life; or learn the old-fashioned way, from classic literature.
Not only is reading one of the most enriching ways to pass your time, it’s also one of the cheapest. After you’ve tried the library, turn to Bookmooch.com to swap books with Moochers around the world, or Abebooks, for used books. And if you do have money to spend, support our indie bookstores, which are hurting now more than ever.
Most everybody has one novel in ‘em: you don’t have to wait for NaNoWriMo to get yours down. We’ll recover from the recession eventually, but you’ll have that accomplishment the rest of your life. And having a new project — and a fruitful new source of escape — will keep your mind off your troubles.
6. Be Inspired.
Now you have time for all those good, creative activities that fueled your imagination when you were young. Take long walks, visit museums and galleries, people-watch. If you can manage to turn off your worries about the future, you’ll find opportunities for daydreaming. This sort of unstructured time is essential to any art: it’s just that we don’t usually have the luxury of indulging it.
Volunteer for a literary organization, create a writing group, take a writing class, if you can find an affordable or free one. All of these things will get you into a community of other writers, and hopefully get you excited about writing. Communities are essential in challenging times; the value of your new support system will extend beyond your writing.
Indeed, anything you can do to focus on your passions, in this case, for literature and writing, will help you survive, if not thrive this year. While everything else may be in a downturn, you can foster a sense of forward momentum in at least one area of your life.