Weekend Reading 3.27.2020

With most of us living and working in isolation, now could be a great time to catch up on your reading and writing. There are lots of online writing groups and book groups to join (the book group I lead just moved online for now). I’m trying to “shop my shelves” and am somewhat overwhelmed by the amount I’ve found for my TBR list.

Focusing on writing proving to be a challenge with so much unstructured time. I’m determined to use my trusty planner to make a schedule for myself. As much as I love to read away a day, my novel will never get finished if I do that. But, everyone needs a break too. If you’re looking for some distractions, try these:

Look for a Magical literary city to explore.

Review some of the best software to use when writing your novel.

Check out this Vintage WD article on Decoding the Secrets of Selling Popular Fiction. (Find Part 2 here.)

Mental Floss is hosting a bracket to determine the greatest character on The Office.

Looking for the week’s new releases? Find them here.

Find out more about the new #StayHomeWriMo movement.

See how podcasting is coming of age during the coronavirus outbreak.

Check out one perspective on the positive effects of a morning routine.

Stay safe and sane out there! Reach out for help when you need it, and lend a helping hand when you can.

You’re Staying In, You Might As Well Write: Fighting Distractions When Your Routine Is Upended By Coronavirus (or whatever)

COVID-19 has a lot of people scared. We’re being advised by the CDC, the President, and other elected officials to work from home, practice social distancing, and avoid any unnecessary trips out of the house (as if there were anywhere to go!).

These changes can upend your routine, big time. Even if you already work at home, you may now have young kids there with you during the day that need you, or college kids that are studying from home for awhile (that’s us!). In many places, libraries and coffee shops are closed, taking away writing sanctuaries for those on the go.

Still, before you turn to Netflix to fill your non-working hours, consider the opportunity to squeeze in some extra writing time. After all, you can’t really go out on Friday night, or you may not have to commute to your job for awhile, so little pockets of time are opening up that could be used to help you get further along on that novel or freelance project.

A few tips:

  • Rethink Your Routine — You may have to create an entirely new routine based on your new “normal.” See if new time slots have opened up that you could squeeze in some writing. Our college kids are home right now, and seem to want food regularly (and can’t go out to eat right now in our small mountain town), so that takes extra grocery shopping and meal planning.
  • Try Sprints Instead of Marathons — Your style may be to sit for extended periods of time working on a writing project, but your circumstances might make it possible to only work in short bursts. Fit in what you can when time is available. This is where reworking your routine comes in handy. I normally work from home, but am using my planner to schedule writing sessions during my off hours when I may have been out doing something else in other circumstances.
  • Preplan Your Sessions — Try to plan the night before for what you want to accomplish during your sprints or marathons. Outline an article while the kids are working on homework. Write a scene during what used to be your morning commute. As those opportunities arise, you’ll be able to maximize your efforts. This is where my planner is coming in again. I try to set word deadlines for my novel for each block of time I’ve set aside for the next day, along with some time for freelance projects.
  • Don’t Overload — Not every pocket of time has to be filled with writing projects. Leave time to let your mind wander. Dump some ideas into your writing journal (more on organizing that to come). Color, hang out with your kids, plan a romantic indoor picnic with your significant other (may do that this week!), or (yes) binge-watch some Netflix. Your brain is most effective when it has some downtime to recharge, making your writing sessions more effective too. And you’ll be happier for it.
  • Chat With Other Writers Online — Social isolation can lead to depression, which inhibits every area of your life, including your writing and productivity. Now may be a good time to join that freelancing Facebook group, or to put together a Zoom meeting with some of your writer friends. Instead of getting lost in a sea of social media, use technology to your advantage and reach out to others who are also home and looking for someone to talk to. A group of mystery writers that I’m a part of has chat groups that give me a line to the outside world as I try to make progress on my novel.

We’re living in a unique time. Since you’re stuck at home anyway, you might as well try to find some time to tackle those writing projects you’ve been putting off for “when you have some extra time.”

Stay safe, be well.

Weekend Reading 3.13.20

It’s been a busy week here. My kids have been home with one of their friends on Spring Break, and my daughter cheered at the MVC men’s basketball tournament (last of the season; all others were cancelled!) while my husband, son, and his friend attended the games (So close to being champions, Valpo!).

I’ve been getting some freelance queries out and have done some planning for my next big push on my cozy mystery. Also got some good reading done (Recent reads post coming Monday).

Hope you’re all safe and taking precautions in the face of the coronavirus pandemic. We’re safe so far here in our little mountain town. While you’re practicing social distancing and staying in more, here are some things to keep your mind occupied. Have a great weekend!

CDC information about symptoms of COVID-19 here. CDC travel recommendations here.

What’s the future of book blogging? This article gives some good insight.

Book Riot’s 15 best online book clubs.

Weird ways to beat writer’s block.

Looking for ways to boost your creativity? Try this article.

I hate being a slow reader and loved this article about how to read faster.

Try these five best budget pens.

Wish you could move the pages around in your writing/reading journal? This magnetic notebook may be for you.

Check out these clever bookish tees and these fun writer tees. This is my fave book tee and my fave writer tee.

I love my morning coffee and especially enjoyed this article about whether your morning cup is good for you.