Congratulations! You made it into adulthood without writing a book. You came close a couple of times, brainstormed some pitches when you between jobs. Even outlined a treatment after a particularly devastating breakup, but you joined a gym before you had time to flesh it out.
Some of your peers weren’t so lucky. They went all in on a novel until it became part of their identity. You’d at the bar meeting women and your friend with a book would walk in. He’d shoehorn his pitch into the conversation and all those fresh faces would start retreating. There’s only so much tragedy people can take before they’re drained.
These walking tragedies that corner you on dance floors, attempting to chew your ear off over the speakers, they’re not even authors. They’ve yet to receive a blessing from the Archbishop of the Faith of the Six Publishers. They have to identify as “writers.” Tragic verbs struggling to transition into nouns, like a subspecies of werewolf getting flareups of hypertrichosis, but never changing over, mummifying themselves in Nair.
Thank Romulus you never got so low and lonely to turn yourself into that.
But Now there’s a Pandemic On
Now you’re quarantined. Social distancing. All furloughed up with nowhere to go. You’ve been sentenced to the solitary refinement of your apartment. Now you’re pacing your parlor looking for purpose, burdened with a deficit of toilet paper and a surplus of free time. You bring your laptop to the other side of the living room just for a change of scenery and that’s when it happens.
Intrusive inspiration taps you on your shoulder again. “Want to write a novel?”
You close your eyes, but it digs its claws into your collar.
“What if there was a castle where rich people reenacted the witch trials as a BDSM power fantasy? We could call it The Kinkquisition.”
You put your fingers in your ears. “I’m not listening.”
You trunked your best ideas in the back of your mind, but now the imp of inspiration is laying them all out again.
It’s easy to resist writing when society is functioning. Open a Word document. Type a sentence. Start wondering what your friends are doing. Look longingly out the window and your fear of missing out will tell you when it’s time to go. Find a happening venue and your novel will fade behind all the other tabs you left open.
But what do you do when all the haberdasheries, fripperies, and back alley speakeasies are shuttered for the season?
Bring Your Fear of Missing Out Back
So the discotheques are gathering dust? That doesn’t mean people stopped partying.
Your favorite DJ has a Twitch stream where he plays music videos and subscribers comment on the fashion choices of the background performers. Shouldn’t your dancing emoji make an appearance?
Instagram isn’t giving you vacation envy like it used to, but you can still covet everyone’s high fashion face masks. Shouldn’t you be carving up your favorite concert t-shirt so everyone can know how cool you are?
Despite the stay-at-home orders all those ravishing runners are still out doing their rounds. Shouldn’t you be down by the lake in case one of them finds themselves stricken with a sudden need to engage you in conversation, a thing that is absolutely overdue to happen?
Give in to Gaming Addiction
Modern videogames are like a placebo for your sense of purpose, especially the ones that let you earn skill points. The more you play the more skill points you can spend to unlock the best features. It’s like working a real job, never mind that none of the loot will go towards rent and that none of the skill trees will branch out into fulfilling careers. They make you feel like you’re progressing in an endeavor. So what if that sense of validation is virtual? At least you’re not skull deep in writing a novel.
Treat Your Cat like the Child You Never Had
Feline companionship increases oxytocin levels in humans. That hug hormone has the power to inflate your sense of well-being. So go get you some. Chase your cat up into the cupboards, scoop him up, and swaddle that motherfucker. Call him a baby. Rock him back and forth. Bathe him your codependency because he’s incapable of understanding its complexities.
If your fingers still feel like typing let your feline friend lay across the keyboard. He knows what he’s doing.
Busy Your Imagination with Worst Case Scenarios
Why waste time imaging characters with hardships to overcome when you could get overwhelmed with your own?
There’s a roadblock in your unemployment benefits and you can’t get through to an operator on the phone. You have no job to go back to and the market is about to be flooded with a wave of overqualified applicants. In this economy, your goal of getting married and starting a family feels more and more like a pipedream on par with winning the lottery. Aren’t those problems much more compelling than any of your fiction?
Be mindful of your headspace. Get those pesky book concepts out of there by giving into despair.
Meet Noelle, a Hollywood transplant that’s been subsisting on instant ramen and false hope. She’s on the verge of moving back into her mother’s trailer when her agent convinces her to take a meeting at the Oralia Hotel. Enchanted by the art deco atmosphere Noelle signs a contract without reading the fine print.
Now she has one month to pen a novel sequestered in a fantasy suite where a hack writer claims he had an unholy encounter. With whom you ask? Well, he has many names: Louis Cypher, Bill Z. Bub, Kel Diablo. The Devil.
Noelle is skeptical, until she’s awoken by a shadow figure with a taste for souls.
Desperate to make it Noelle stays on, shifting the focus of her story to these encounters. Her investigations take her through the forth wall and back again until she’s blurred the line between reality and what’s written. Is there a Satanic conspiracy, is it a desperate author’s insanity, or something else entirely?
3 thoughts on “How to Avoid Writing a Novel During a Pandemic”
Ouch, the sense of validation from video games part hit a little too close to home lol. Great post. 🙂
Me too. That’s why I said it. I played a little too much Resident Evil 3. I may have beaten it somewhere around six times. 😉
If you’re going to be addicted to a video game, at least you picked a good one. My dad is hooked on Resident Evil 6 and my mom is addicted to Design Home. She borrowed my tablet and started designing rooms on my account behind my back lol. I’m really addicted to Sims Freeplay right now. All the things you mentioned about getting skill points and feeling like you are accomplishing something remind me of my addiction to this game. As I get more people and money and build more buildings, I feel like I’m accomplishing something. I know it’s a false sense of validation but man it feels good lol.