Navigating Through Waves of News

One of the advantages of working in an office with other people is that it’s much harder to obsess about the news. Even if I wanted to stare incessantly at the screen, I couldn’t. People would interrupt me with their needs. I’d be embarrassed to be seen spending time not working.

At home that’s not the case. The first two years I worked from home I struggled with this. I’d like to tell you that I changed because I made a conscious decision to limit my news time, but that would be a lie. Sure I made many conscious decisions to stop reaching for the news… later. Right after I checked one more time to see what was going on.

This year with the pandemic, the financial downturn, the election, the chaos in foreign policy and what was going on elsewhere could have been the year that deep-sixed my writing for good. But it wasn’t. The reason is deadlines.

This year I had hard deadlines with work that needed to be sent to other people. First the secret gaming project. Then Secret Project #1. And just recently Thule the book. Plus I have two writing groups that feel at times like an endless maw with very sharp teeth demanding that I produce new chapters and stories each week.

External expectations. They fuel my work.

Because it was impossible to write what I needed to write and make my deadlines if I were angry or sad, I had to avoid groups that specialized in drama. I had to avoid news. At least during working hours. Otherwise no deadlines would be met.

So in this very strange year which so many people have found much harder to work during, I’ve finally managed to carve out time away from social media and news. The primary way I’ve done this is to write with other people virtually. They are my anchor. Much thanks to my special writing friends who join me to write.

I’ve found that I can’t write virtually on video because I become obsessed with my own appearance and with watching everyone else. I’m a people watcher. Given a choice between watching and writing… Well, I don’t make the best choices.

What I do instead is write with people in Slack and Discord groups: text-based interaction. These are people who come to the group with the same goals as me. They leave behind the news for a bit to produce and edit words and occasionally do a spot of brainstorming. The key here is that during working hours I keep my brain within fiction, both my own and the fiction my friends are writing. And it’s working.

I hope you have also found a way to navigate through difficult waves this year to produce your own work. If not, perhaps what you need are deadlines and a couple of like-minded friends to take the journey with you.

Be well, friends!

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