It would be a huge understatement saying what a roller-coaster of an year 2020 has been. In an effort to being as honest as possible, I and most of us would agree that the countless prospects and blueprints we had laid out for the year have unfortunately taken a back seat in the midst of the COVID-19 scourge. To be fair, its magnitude was underestimated and unsurprisingly it has brought to a standstill the world as we knew it.
For creatives, this period has presented a challenge:do you remain active in the pursuit of individuals goals set? Or do you take the desirous moment to gather your wits about the pandemic at hand? Or do you take it in stride and ride the wave till things are “normal” again? Fairly speaking, there is no wrong answer.
Now I will be transparent with you and admit that I have taken the foot off the creative pedal for the last couple of weeks. This period has not been the easiest to deal with for many people, and for different reasons. Nonetheless, it has brought to the fore the need to tirelessly work on my writing and further my reading as part of the daily grind to keep improving and learning. I have come to the realization that moments of uncertainty and strife can stir up creativity in ways no one can fathom.
It does not matter how slowly you go as long as you do not stopConfucius
The year is still in its formative months therefore my writing targets have been stretched over into three blocks of four months to allow for easier management. Of course, it is important to work within a time-frame that is comfortable with your schedule away from your creative processes and one that is flexible enough. This way you are able to measure your efforts effectively and know when and how to pace yourself. I personally chose to break the year down into three blocks because I find it easier for me to gauge my progress.
I always have notepads, binders or even bits of paper around my study and reading area when I need to write down any ideas that bounce off my head without losing interest in them. Recently I began investing in sticky notes too which have proven helpful when I have to scribble something, however trivial it is, and not lose it. I cannot count how many of these I have stuck on my laptop, wall or the bed headboard.
These bits and pieces of information range from targets I have set for this blog (you may have noticed the re-structuring that it has gone through) which include the kind of content I want to share, the recent comments and engagements I may want to go back and address, other niche-blogs in my area of expertise that I may want to share with my audience, topics that require in-depth research and ways to improve the overall performance of the blog.
Other than that, I also keep lists of books that I intend to look into, buy or give away. It is no secret that most writers are avid readers as well – keeping myself on this track has required copious reading of books ranging from fiction, conspiracy, biographies, inspirational books and non-fiction. Currently I am reading Dan Brown’s Angels and Demons coupled with Find Your Happiness from the Chicken Soup series. This is one of the ways I am able to beat a writer’s block and also generate ideas for the blog, which I consider a win-win.
In the beginning of the year, I immersed myself in a challenge to attempt to read 500 books by the end of the year in close association with a great friend of mine, the Cuisine Voyager, who is an amazing food blogger. You can call that far-fetched but if we don’t make it to 500 though, at least we will have read a book for every month of the year and that, to me, counts as something.
While I was doing major restructuring of this blog all through January and part of February, I also went into the business of finding more and more blogs with content that I found interesting and captivating. Most of them are WordPress blogs with a reasonable niche-following therefore I was able to connect with the readers of those blogs as well. I wouldn’t stress enough the importance of keeping the creative community around you as niche as possible. I have dedicated to re-posting some of the content from Renard’s World and #MillenialLifeCrisis, two blogs that I thoroughly enjoy reading and learning from.
Apart from my note-taking and my networking, I have also been sparing some time in my schedule to write more and more drafts of my crime thriller book, F.R.E.D Teen Detective. Although this year I have slowed the process down a notch, I am proud to say that roughly fourteen more drafts are in the works. Dare I say, churning out one-hundred-and-fifty plus pages worth of a fictional story can drain the grey matter from you. Literally! I am currently slugging through a piece where my main character is involved in an outer-space quandary. I haven’t come up with a title yet but the story is building up pretty well.
In the near future, I may publish an article on how I actually undertake my book writing just to give you a glimpse of the legwork.
Perhaps the biggest achievement I have conquered since January is joining Skillshare. It is an online learning community with millions of tutors who teach specific creative classes such as photography, dance, web design, creative writing and online writing among many other classes. The aim is to learn the basics of a particular creative class and apply them in your own project or use the lessons to create your own project.
I never fail to log into a class weekly just to check on new lessons from acclaimed tutors or complete a lesson I had started and saved. There are so many writer’s guides, toolkits, intuitive illustrations, fun exercises to unlock creativity and video essentials meant to hone your skills. I am enjoying using it and I would advise you to have a go at it too.
Nonetheless, not everything has fallen in place yet. The online publication that I write for has been on a hiatus since the COVID-19 outbreak so the book reviews I have on the mill will have to wait until a later date.
Also, I am going through an inner conflict as whether to publish my second book with a locally-based publisher or stick with my internationally-based publisher which is a decision I will have to make sooner. My first release did well given the small scale of production and the self-marketing I undertook and I am grateful to those who, in one way or another, have read it. I guess I am still reeling from that to actually make sense of what to do next but I will have it figured out hopefully before August.
Needless to say, there is a lot more for me to unravel as a writer and a blogger and many lessons to learn. I am still thinking of my targets for the second third of the year and how to improve from this point onward. Honestly, the decision to put my thoughts about the current state of the world aside and focus on my craft has been the wisest I have made. Not only has it eased any signs of anxiety but it has offered me another perspective to this seemingly endless free time we have been afforded as room for creative exploitation and freedom to try, fail and try again. Because that’s the daily dose of any creative out there.
I wish you a safe stay at home during this social distancing period and fun as you explore the creative depths of your craft.