I hope you are doing well during this difficult time. In Ireland, we are almost hitting a month into our lockdown. Its weird, watching videos of my city being a ghost town. I miss the trips into town to see my friends. I miss the chill pints had, at my favourite spot. I miss the chats and being in the same room with my friends. We still have the ability to stay in contact with the people we love. Thats what is so amazing about the internet. But you really do take for granted the physical connection. I miss being in the same room as my friends. I cant wait to give them massive hugs when this is all over.
Throughout lockdown, I have spent most of my time on Twitter and Instagram. With social media being a massive way to connect, the world has jumped into it. A common discussion on Twitter is productivity during lockdown. People set goals out for themselves throughout their lockdown. Mostly people do this to keep themselves busy during the stressful times. Goals that I have seen, include: pick up a new hobby, read all the books you procrastinated reading and my personal favourite, write that novel you’ve always wanted to write. At first, I liked this idea. A community of people on the internet encouraging you to be creative in this difficult time. Dont focus on the bad. Be creative during this shitty time. And who knows, you may write your magnum opus through all of this. I loved that energy. It got me into working more on my planned projects. I was ready to start reading and writing again.
However, it took a stressful turn for me. I started to see a toxic side to this productivity. A lot of people encouraged each other. They pushed each other to create. One of my friends was on a roll with her work. She wrote more of her planned novella and started a few songs. It was incredible to see that. I felt inspired to write. However, I didn’t work as much as I had hoped. I tried to force myself to write. Ive done it before, where I did write more and got out of my funk. I felt like I was forcing myself to be productive because everyone else was doing it. I felt really down about that. For the first time in a while, I am free to create the work I have always wanted to do. I am not working anymore and I spend majority time at home. I have all the time in the world to do my projects. But there was that nagging thought in my head, to sit down and get it done.
“What are you doing?” Why aren’t you writing that new poem? Turn off the game and start working?”
With those thoughts in your head, you start to hate your work. You aren’t creating from inspiration. Youre just forcing yourself to create. Also, my mental health hasn’t been great the past year. Writing does help, but sometimes writing takes a lot out of me, when i am not in the right mental space. My procrastination and the lockdown didn’t help it either. Then social media made that worse. The encouragement turned to criticism. I saw so many people attack each other for how they are spending their time in lockdown. It almost became a rule, that everyone must do something throughout lockdown. You must pick up a new hobby. You must read more. You must start and finish your defining work. Not everyone is like this, but there is that side of the internet. People picking apart your productivity. I wanted to start up my blog again and fix the format of it. I wanted to read more and write more. But I just couldn’t at the beginning. I was excited to do it, but I wasn’t in a good place to actually do anything.
Instead, I took the time to look after myself. I started taking priority over my self-care. I looked out for my mental health. I reduced communication with friends at the beginning, until I felt comfortable with reaching out. I chilled in my house by watching some new anime or Netflix documentaries (loved the Tiger King). When I felt anxious or down, I reduced my use of social media during the day. Some days, I switch off my Wifi as an opportunity to relax. As I felt better, I started to write again. I write when I feel inspired. My novella is coming along slowly. At first, I hated how slow my progress was going. Now, I learned to appreciate that slow time to marinate over the story. I am working on my characters and the story has come organically from those character sheets. I dont feel pressure to write this book by a set deadline. I did put myself through a deadline originally, but my mental health had other plans. Ive just decided to go with the flow, write my novella when I feel like it. Be creative and productive when I want to be.
Just because your productivity doesn’t match someone elses, that doesn’t make you lazy or less than them. Even though I havent done a lot of work during lockdown, I feel so much happier. My mental health has improved in this last month than the past year. Im not 100% happy. I still have my bad days like everyone else. But I did give that time for myself to heal in some way. That has been a positive for me in lockdown. You shouldn’t feel shame for wanting to be with yourself for a while. You shouldn’t feel bad for not starting that project. Everyone works at their own pace. During this pandemic, you are not obligated to do anything during self-isolation. Pick up a book, dont pick up a book. Start your project, dont start your project. Do whatever you want. Do whatever makes you happy and dont have anyone tell you differently. Online encouragement can be great, but sometimes it takes a dark turn. Make your mental health and comfort level a priority.
Sorry about that little rant. I just felt like discussing this idea that you need to be productive in lockdown. We are in a pandemic and some people dont feel like doing anything. Thats why I think its amazing seeing people on social media promote self-care and mental health care. We are in a scary time in history and we need to look out for each other. Look out for yourself. You cant be there for the people you love, if you aren’t there for yourself. And dont shame people for their productivity during self-isolation.
Hope you are all staying safe and indoors. Thank you for taking the time to read this. I shall see ye in the next post.