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Emotional Distancing

This week, the United States is going into a two-week quarantine in an effort to fight the Covid-19 virus. If you examine the data carefully, you’ll understand that this is good science and that we need to do it in order to put the breaks on this pandemic. It is just the beginning of a long-term strategy that we will need to undertake to put a halt to the spread of the virus. You might not be worried about yourself, but as a responsible person you do need to do it for others.

On the news, doctors have coined the term “social distancing,” the act of merely keeping away from others who might be ill until the virus dies down.

A lot of us writers are taking this time to focus on our work. People are even participating in special “Nanowrimo” activities. We understand that if we do so, if we make good use of this two weeks, it will pay off in the long run.  You could write most of a novel in two weeks.

That said, for many people, it might be hard to do. Staying away from restaurants, theaters, sporting events, schools, jobs, and so on is tough.

What’s much tougher is staying away from stress. It’s easy to get caught up in watching the daily news as the stock market goes through its roller coaster, confirmed cases mount up (you’ll see a huge increase in those as soon as mass testing begins), and so on. You might even have potential worries for your own career and income.

For some people, curiosity will lead to greater stress, and that stress will cripple their creativity. Instead of focusing on their novels, they’ll be focusing on the spectacle.

What should a writer do?

  1. Turn off the television.
  2. Don’t surf the internet.
  3. Forget the newspaper.
  4. Take care of your family but give yourself alone time to write.
  5. Focus on your writing each night before bed and then again first thing in the morning.

In other words, this coming few weeks, as you practice social distancing, also practice “emotional distancing.” Keep your focus on the problems of your characters in your story.

As you consider those, your subconscious mind will become more and more grounded in your tale, and you’ll find it easier to write with each coming day. As you think about upcoming scenes to write in the evening, they’ll populate your imagination while you sleep, and you’ll often awake ready to write.

Now, for several years I used to put up daily writing tips.  In an effort to help you, I’ll begin doing that effectively today and continue for the next two weeks, at the very least. So relax into your writing, and have a great day.

I suspect that this will all blow over surprisingly soon, and you’ll all be able to tell your grandchildren about how you wrote your bestselling novel during the big scare of 2020.

Happy Writing!


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Due to the epidemic, Dave has postponed all appearances for the foreseeable future, and will not be presenting any live workshops for the summer.  However, he is teaching some great workshops online.  If you’re interested in learning about his Apex writing group then email apex to apexwriter@xmission.com and we will send you further instructions.

If you also really want to take this time to sharpen your writing skills, he will still have two online workshops that are starting soon, March 28th.

The Advanced Story Puzzle: How to Brainstorm and Outline a Bestseller

The Advanced Story Puzzle covers the steps involved in prewriting and outlining your novel.

Learn to identify what pieces you need, what pieces you’re missing, how to find the elements you lack, how to know if a piece to your story puzzle is worthy of being included, and how to know if you’re even working on the right “puzzle”.

There are six lessons on setting, character, conflict, plotting, theme, and treatment. You will also have weekly video conferences where we can discuss your story and answer any questions. Turn in your weekly assignments and I will grade them and give further advice.

Writing Enchanting Prose

You’ve read stories that absolutely swept you away into another world, stories made you forget you were reading and ultimately left you changed. This workshop is designed to teach you how to enchant your readers.

Similar to the Advanced Story Puzzle, there are eight lessons with weekly conference calls and assignments.

You can find more information on both workshops here: http://mystorydoctor.com/online-workshops/

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