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Finding Creative Focus During Lockdown – The Power Of The Deadline

Finding creative focus during  the Covid-19 lockdown has been tricky for many writers and creatives and I’m no exception. Like many of you, I’m working from home, following all the advice about social distancing and trying to stay motivated and sane in these scary times we’re currently living through.

No news is good news . . .

I’ve got to be honest, for the first few days of lock down in the UK, I was struggling to concentrate on writing anything – constantly being sucked into reading the latest pandemic headline and seeking out every possible morsel of corona-related info. Many of my family and friends have reported feeling exactly the same – glued to their phones and screens for hours at a time. Thankfully, bit by bit, I’m managing to wean myself off all that negativity and trying only to have a quick look first thing in the morning and then maybe drop into the daily briefings in the evening. I’m making sure I use my daily exercise allocation, either with a long walk or a bike ride and I’m trying to listen to as many LPs as possible.

The Power of The Deadline . . .

But the way I really turned the corner was by utilizing the power of the deadline. BBC Writers Room put out a very last minute request for short scripts based around the current crisis, with themes of isolation and yet being interconnected. They were looking for stories based around Skype or video calls as they want to produce four of these during April and I’m guessing they will need to rely on that same technology to put them together. I came up with an idea at the start of the week and knew it had to be delivered within a few days – which really does help to focus the mind and block out some of the distractions. I submitted it yesterday. Wish me luck.

When the deadlines disappear . . .

So what do you do when you don’t have an external deadline or goal to focus your creative energy? You make your own, of course! When you’re working from home or finding you have a lot more time on your hands, it’s easy to become lethargic and unmotivated. Write a to-do list for the day, but also be sure to set some mid and longterm goals. Put dates on things. As the old adage goes – if it doesn’t get measured, it doesn’t get done. Regularly review your progress and hold yourself to account – or ask a friend or family member to check how you’re getting on. A friendly kick up the backside always helps.

All work and no play . . .

Being busy and productive will definitely improve your mental health and keep you busy, but it’s important to get some downtime and – even more crucially – to fill your creative well with lots of other interesting content. Read books, listen to music, seek out all those classic films you’ve never seen or rewatch the ones you have. How about listening to a few podcasts like my very own Joined Up Writing or the excellent Scriptnotes podcast? Art – good and bad – is what inspires and fuels our creativity and if you can’t indulge during a once-in-a-hundred-year global pandemic, when can you?

Let’s keep talking . . .

That’s how I’m staying in the creative groove and remaining positive, but what about you? How are you coping? Any tips you want to share, or problems you’d like to vent? Let fly in the comments below, stay safe and let’s keep the conversation going through these uncertain times.

1 thought on “Finding Creative Focus During Lockdown – The Power Of The Deadline

  1. I watch the news once a day, I’ve found it’s better for my mental health that way.
    I’ve also stopped looking at Facebook everyday. It’s full of fake news, and quite honestly some of the comments from people I know are weird or depressing. It’s good for sites which have been set up to help people etc but a lot of the personal accounts are what I call fuel on the fire.

    Twitter however, I’m finding is good, people are upbeat and sharing tips and tricks about writing, reading, the arts, and generally are happy to chat etc so I’ll stick with that for the time being.

    Over the last few days I’ve been setting up a sub group of my writers critique group, strangely, it’s called the Sub Group, its purpose is to get people subbing their work out into the world. I’m being very organised, making sure they know what they’re signing up for and searching and sorting for links to competitions and opportunities. They’ve got deadlines so it’ll be interesting.

    I’m also creating a space to write. I have one but it’s a tip! I’m addressing the situation. Currently making an even bigger mess…but I’ll get it shaped up before the weekend.

    As for fiction, I’ve started a new short story, and written a poem.
    I will get back to my novel manuscript but right now I’m easing myself in gently.

    Tomorrow, I’ll be dedicating tome to my blog. I have a big task ahead. It’s been paused for over a year. I’m making a comeback…and I’m really looking forward to getting back to it.

    For relaxation, I’m forcing myself out for a walk. Listening to music, podcasts and taking my reading time with Audible. I’m currently listening to How to Stop Time by Matt Haig, and so far have enjoyed the first couple of chapters.

    Bad habits I’ve picked up already are staying up far too late. I’ve slapped myself on the wrist and I will be starting a new bedtime routine tonight. I will.
    Eating too many dark Bounty chocolate bars, drinking more gin than usual and forgetting to take my vitamin tablets! Mmm, all will be dealt with in time, although you have to have a few vices, otherwise you’d go mad…but hey wait a minute. Writers are mad!

    Right off to do a bit more on the writing space with Andrea Bocelli to keep me company!
    Great to see you’re blogging again Mr Kelly.

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