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  • Writer's pictureFrederike Schmitz

How to keep yourself motivated and writing during lock-downs

Photo by Sigmund on Unsplash

In my last blog I told you how the pandemic changed my story.

In that sense it was a chance. A chance to get to a better, shorter story. A story that would hopefully be relevant to kids.

But the pandemic mostly has had and still has a lot of negative effects on me- as I’m sure this is the same for most of us.

If you’re lucky- like I am- knock on wood- then none of your family or friends have suffered serious consequences due to the infection with this virus.

If you’re not, I’m deeply sorry and hope that your loved ones got out of it OK.

What most of us probably experienced is working from home.

Me and my husband are both working from home since March last year.

During times when the daycares were closed this meant that we also took care of our young daughter. She’s three, so nowhere close to be left alone for even a few minutes.

When that happened, we had to split up our working days and weeks, to take care of her.

If you also have to look after young children during working days, you know that you cannot really call yourself productive, work wise. Most of the times.

It took me some time to get used to. To not expect that I work like I did before. To not achieve as much as I did previously.

I still struggle with this. But I’m sure I’m not alone.

Maybe you have had a similar experience?

And if you’re writing a book, or are engaged in a big creative project, it can be plain daunting.

The process of book writing is a mystery to me still- let alone on how to deal with limited time to work during a lockdown. Not even mentioning the trouble to focus on one thing. To get into the creative flow that you need to write a book.

How did I do that?

Well I knew I had only a certain amount of time to write so I had to get started right away.

And to be honest, what motivated me the most was often frustration and anger.

This maybe sounds a bit strange but in the beginning of the pandemic I got annoyed at people asking for vaccines. When are they ready? Why does it take so long?

I got annoyed at the fact that most people don’t know what it takes to make vaccines, let alone what they do.

Don’t get me wrong I don’t want to blame anybody. If you have no idea what it takes you are not alone.

But to simplify things to such an extreme and claim that it should just happen doesn’t do justice to the shear complexity of things.

The less you know about topics the more likely you simplify or generalize.

That happens to me too, all the time. Sometimes I notice, most often I don’t.

As I mentioned before, when I started writing, I knew nothing about writing.

Now I know a bit more but still so little in comparison to the ‘real writers’.

The authors of great books.

I now know that it requires skills, lots of them- most you can learn if you want to- and talent to excel at it. Like with so many things.

So, I used this anger and frustration to turn it into creativity. I felt like I had to show people how complex the world is and explain about the nuances. So that people can appreciate it.

That is why I also started to write a story about vaccines. How they are created and what they intend to do. All from the perspective of immune cells of course. As for the rest I know close to nothing about the whole process of how to actually make a vaccine, produce it, distribute it and how it’s evaluated on safety and efficacy.

Maybe it also helped that I knew this whole book-writing-thing would take a lot of time. And that I started way before the pandemic. Back then I already thought it was an urgent topic I wanted to talk about.

Way before people were talking about T and B cells who would have never used such vocabulary before.

After all, we’re all in the school of epidemiology, virology and immunology right now. Coming from different backgrounds, but we’re all learning.

As I start to realize how long the process of writing a book is, I realize that it’s even more important to keep my story general enough.

That even when the pandemic is behind us (hope that that happens sooner than later) it will still be interesting for kids to read it.

And the good thing is, that all the kids who are around the age of 7 and onwards now will have some prior knowledge about viruses. A thing I couldn’t count on before this pandemic.

But let’s face it. Being creative amidst a pandemic is hard.

What are your experiences? How are you managing to be and stay creative?

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