Two weekends ago, Alex and I took a much-needed minivacation. Our destination? A little cabin we visited in Western North Carolina almost exactly one year before. We didn’t purposely time the trip this way. After being stuck in our house for most of the winter, we simply decided a change of scenery would do both of us some good.
It was only when we were unpacking in the cabin that I realized it had been a full year since our last visit. That initial trip was back in March 2020, when news about the pandemic was just beginning to spread (publicly in the U.S., at least). On this recent return visit, we entered the cabin half-vaccinated and weary from a year of pandemic life.
Life has changed so drastically in just 12 months. In March 2020, I was still working full-time in the physical therapy clinic (and we were days away from the majority of the company losing their jobs, although I was kept on, fortunately). Now, I’m a full-time freelance writer and editor working from home.
Another change came about since our last cabin visit. We’re engaged! Alex proposed in September 2020 during our Olympic National Park trip. We have our wedding in the works for this fall, as we near the four-year mark in our relationship.
Needless to say, life has changed drastically! Of course, the past year hasn’t all been good changes.
A lot of the time has been tough. When I first thought of taking the plunge into full-time freelancing, I imagined meeting up at coffee shops with my writer and editor friends during the day. I assumed I’d be using the public library as a work station every now and then, browsing the collection when I felt like it. I envisioned meeting clients in person and getting to know businesses in the area.
Instead, like many other people, I’ve been isolated in the house (minus Alex and our pets. THANK GOODNESS for them). The library is open for just 30-minute browsing sessions, the coffee shops all close early and offer a very limited amount of seating. In-person networking has been nonexistent due to COVID.
Since deciding to write full-time, I’ve had to find ways to work while feeling cooped up in the house. I’ve gradually developed a loose routine that fits my current lifestyle, with the understanding that life changes day to day.
This past year has been incredibly difficult in terms of mental health, and I’ve made taking care of myself (and others) a priority. I’m celebrating my successes while trying to go easy on myself when I don’t quite “succeed.”
Some weeks, I haven’t been nearly as productive as I’d hoped. I’ve learned to be okay with that.
I love deadlines. I like the whooshing sound they make as they fly by.– Douglas Adams
I’ve begun making an effort to journal daily again, a habit I’d let fall to the wayside. I honestly do credit using the Fabulous app for helping me get back into this and other routines. (I like to mention I’m not a paid advertiser, since that’s a common thing for bloggers. I just genuinely enjoy sharing tips and tossing around ideas to help fellow writers. Or really, anyone reading this blog!)
The app was designed in a lab at Duke University and helps you create positive habits and stick to them. One feature they’ve developed are “challenges” for users to select, like their “Deep Work Challenge” (similar to the writing sprints method used to encourage authors to write). There’s a 7-minute morning exercise one I love, a self-esteem challenge that encourages you to note positive things about yourself, and several other challenges to choose from.
I’ve begun a reading-before-bed ritual that helps me unwind. Even if it is just a single, short chapter, the process of reading for a few minutes before trying to sleep helps transition out of the writing day.
There is something immensely satisfying about checking off on the app that I accomplished a goal. Seriously. The sounds effects make quite a bit of fanfare for the simplest task (although if it were truly that simple, would I need an app to do it?).
While I’ve made adjustments because I’ve had to, I’m ready to get back to socializing and seeing my friends and family regularly (and without worrying about infecting them).
Today’s announcement of easing guidelines for fully vaccinated people is thrilling for this reason. Adjusting to freelancing in a less isolated setting is a writing change I’m happy to make for 2021!
How has your writing process changed over the past year? Has your work been affected by the pandemic? Leave a comment – I’d love to hear from you!