Many of us thought we'd get so much done during the COVID-19 lockdown.
We'd take care of those niggling projects around the place that we'd put off for years, finally landscape the garden, have a big clean out, catch up on those books we've wanted to read, clean the house from top to bottom ... write the books we've been thinking about forever ..
Well, we can't water-blast any more in Auckland because of the water restrictions; the libraries are mostly still closed (although some are opening now); and writing that book, well, don't feel badly if you only wrote a couple of pages or a few words, or just spent the time thinking about it. You're not alone.
I had hopes too that I would get stuck into the book I'm writing but you know what? All I managed during the four+-week lockdown of Level 4 was my daily isolation journal. I've kept up my own personal journal though ... but I have to bribe myself to sit down in the late afternoon with a shot of whisky.
Here we are in Level 2 with less restrictions but I still feel as if I'm in a creative slump. I cannot manage a single paragraph. I have learned over the years not to beat myself up if I cannot write. There's always a reason for the dimming or disappearance of the creative powers.
It's been an anxious, difficult time these last couple of months. My mind has been preoccupied with so many different things, like that first trip to the grocery store during the early weeks of Level 4, not knowing what to expect and thinking the virus might leap out from behind the apples and up my nose, or it'd hitch a ride home on a bag of nuts.
There have been financial worries too and when that happens, Creative Mind gets paralysed and cannot imagine or create anything and Manager Mind takes over as we search for money here there and everywhere, budget and ration, plan and scheme so we can stay afloat for another week. Ah the writing life! It's a delicious challenge (almost like a guilty secret) at the best of times and when an economic calamity befalls the country, one that is out of your control, it's a precarious situation.
The 'not knowing' what the future brings is disorienting because we usually have some control and choice over that. Feeling disempowered, having decisions made for you (ones that you may not like too much), being told what you can and cannot do, all piles up to challenge those plans to clean and scrub and hammer and nail and write.
But we are getting there. We have some time to go yet but we are making progress and that is cause for the no-more-than-ten people celebrations and behaving oneself in the bars whilst drinking beer. I haven't been out for beer yet. We're all a bit wary of this however I am working up to it because I need to fill up the well. Not with beer but with what a friend of mine calls 'input'.
I have to get out and see things, talk to people, take those cautious steps back into life's mainstream, experience the colour, hub-bub, the noise, and stir up the sluggish imagination.
Fill up the creative well.
I cannot say enough about personal writing at this time, sitting down and recording your experiences of the effect COVID-19 has had on your life.
Think back to when you first heard about this virus, how the reality began to dawn on the world that this thing was going to spread all over the show, and then came the day we knew would inevitably arrive.
The disease had arrived here.
Remember the panic buying at supermarkets, everybody all over the place, no flour and no toilet paper, the pleas from government to take it easy, there is plenty for everyone ...
I cannot remember anything comparable in my lifetime (I can say that now, being of a venerable age!) , although I do recall, parting the misty veils of time, a measles outbreak when I was at primary school. However, back then we did not have the protocols we have now, and so it was kind of a case of getting it and getting over it, rather like a 'herd immunity' situation, and indeed, everyone got it.
That was the time I was so sick I had measles on the soles of my feet and in my high-fever daze, saw Jesus standing beside my bed. But that's another story.
Like many others around the world, I kept an isolation journal during this strange COVID time and wrote daily about what life was like while we were 'locked away' here in New Zealand for five weeks. I haven't read back through those entries yet and probably won't for some time. Right now, I don't want to relive any of it because I am looking forward, not backward, with a fresh set of concerns and anticipations - and no shortage of anxieties too.
However, for me using my journals as resources for future writing is a tried and true technique that I can recommend. There will come a day when you'll want to remember this time in world history and the part you played in it. And if you write about it now while it is fresh, immediate, in your face, you'll have that raw material at your fingertips.
So do it. Get writing. There's no time like now to get started on a personal memoir or journal and if you need a kick start, I can give it to you in a take-no-prisoners 40 minute California-or-bust no-excuses online session for just $21. Please give it a go. Let's Zoom together.