Writing in Difficult Times

  • By: Jessica Faust | Date: Mar 16 2020

There is no doubt that difficult times make writing harder. When the world seems like it is blowing up, focusing and being creative feels nearly impossible. And yet, deadlines don’t stop just because the world is crazy.

No one thing will work for all people and, certainly, everyone’s situation will be different. But for those seeking guidance, I have some tips.

  1. Just keep writing. It doesn’t have to be great. It doesn’t even have to be good, but sitting down every day to put words on paper makes a difference.
  2. Shut down social media. When the world is crazy-making we all go to social media for information. It’s useful, but can also be destructive. Pick a few times each day to check-in, limit your time, and get out.
  3. Talk about it. If you’re truly struggling, reach out to your agent and let them know. Sometimes just sharing can release what’s holding you back. It’s okay to admit you’re struggling.
  4. Do something else creative–make a cake, knit a scarf, take a photograph, or build a coatrack. Finding something you enjoy outside of writing helps take your mind off what is blocking you.
  5. Give yourself a break. Times are tough and it’s okay to acknowledge that you’re struggling. Allow yourself some time if you need it.

I wish you all good health. And promise, the words will come again.

For more information, check out this video on the BookEnds YouTube channel:

15 responses to “Writing in Difficult Times”

  1. Avatar Steve Sanderson says:

    Thanks Jessica, for writing this and for your words of support and encouragement…

  2. Times like these may be the most important times for us to keep going. Thanks for this, Jessica. Stay well.

  3. Build a coat rack – that cracked me up! Thanks for the laugh 🙂 I’ve been writing like crazy, maybe because of these weird times, averaging about 8,000 words a day!

  4. Thanks for this. I’ve put my proposal to the side and just can’t seem to get back to it at the moment. But, I will try and write anything even if it’s not working on finishing my proposal. Stay healthy.

  5. Avatar Martha Taylor says:

    Just what I needed to see today. Thanks Jessica!

  6. Avatar Peg Cochran says:

    Great advice! We’re in this together. I’ve found the situation creeping into my writing–I was working on a scene set in crowded train station and all of a sudden I panicked–I can’t put my characters in a crowd–they might catch Covid-19. Fortunately the virus doesn’t exist in my fictional world.

  7. Avatar Sadie says:

    Thank you Jessica. You always have the right words

  8. Avatar Mirka Breen says:

    Perfect^ Jessica. Doing all the above.
    Writing and reading stories reminds us that people always have (and always will) face monumental challenges. It’s the stuff stories are made of.

  9. Avatar Barb Ristine says:

    Thanks for the encouraging words. I’m pushing myself to finish revisions to share with my developmental editor, but it’s easy to become distracted. My WIP is set in WWI, and coincidentally, includes a story line about the Spanish Flu. I am not pleased that life is imitating art right now–I feel like I’ve summoned a demon.

  10. Avatar Charlotte says:

    Hello BookEnds Literary people!

    I hope everyone on here is staying calm and well!
    This may sound like a stupid and possibly insensitive question, but is this a terrible time for querying? I’m just finishing rewriting my book, which I’m planning to query again.
    My book also has elements of illness in it (#ownvoice take on disability/long-term illness). And containment. Er…should I put it in my drawer for a bit and forget about it, given the current virus situation? It’s not about a contagious disease as such, but I don’t want to send anything to anyone that might be triggering.


    • The agents of BookEnds, and many other agents, are actively reading. In this time of uncertainty we are looking for great books to take us away from the chaos.

  11. Avatar Charlotte says:

    Hi Jessica! Thanks for the reply! Ok, I’ll keep going and submit when ready. I won’t banish my MS to the drawer just yet 😉

  12. Avatar Mary Ellen Davis says:

    Jessica, seeing your name made me smile! I saw a link to your post on Nathaniel Bradford’s blog and remembered you from a lunch at Pikes Peak Writers Conference about 20 years ago. I enjoyed sitting next to you and gaining more insight into the agent’s life. And thanks for your encouragement to keep writing and doing creative things, as I putter away on a story that encouragement really helps. I get gratitude for the extra effort on dinners from my husband. Thanks again.

  13. Avatar AJ Blythe says:

    Funnily enough, the pandemic doesn’t affect my creativity. The hardest thing is writing in an office with my 2 Barbarians home now schools are closed. I’m supervising school work and keeping them on task instead of being able to focus on my writing (because like many, I have no longer have work). But we’re muddling by and I’m sure we’ll settle into some sort of routine soon enough.