Hello! I’ve been socially-distancing with my family for three weeks now – we’re healthy and safe here, and I hope you and your loved ones are too.
The news is scary right now, and reality maybe even scarier than that – if I think about it for too long, I want to curl up crying in the fetus position on the couch. And if that’s what you need to do right now, that’s valid. Take care of yourself – you might need to take things slow and feel the full impact of what’s going on.
However, if you’re anything like me, then you don’t want to think about it! You want to be busy and surround yourself with fulfilling hobbies so you don’t lose your mind! You crave some sense of normalcy in a world that looks nothing like it did a month ago!
Luckily, socially-distancing is my natural state of being, so being cooped up in my house is the only part of a global pandemic that I feel capable of facing. Reading and writing lend themselves well to times like these; they’re solitary activities that give us a sense of community. Writing is a call, and reading is a response. Whether it be a classic from hundreds of years ago or a short story you wrote today, stories say Someone else has felt the way you do. It’s going to be okay. You’re not alone.
I’ve compiled a list of things I’ve been doing (or hope to do!) while socially-distancing, specifically ones that I thought might appeal to other readers and writers, in the hopes that they might reach someone looking for something creative to do. (See? All writing is a call.)
1. Read A Genre You Don’t Usually Read
Avid nonfiction consumer? Try a novel. Connoisseur of all things literary fiction? Try YA. And of course, vice versa.
2. Try an Audiobook
Ah, the incredible comfort and pleasure of another human’s voice! I’m not a big audiobook person but now feels like the time to try.
3. Reread Your Childhood / Comfort Books
Artemis Fowl is finally being made into a movie, so I might take that as an invitation to reread the books – I LOVED this series as a kid, and rereading it makes me feel warm and safe.
4. Tackle a Classic or Longer Book
I’m going to try to read The Age Of Innocence in the coming weeks. Also – Carmen Maria Machado is my favorite author and her books are classics-in-the-making. Some of her stories about the apocalypse might hit a little too close to home at the moment, but if you’re in the mood to read some incredible writing, she’s the author for you.
5. Take on A Reading Challenge
You can find a master list of 2020 reading challenges here!
6. Read Something Funny
David Sedaris! Mindy Kaling! Jonas Jonasson!
7. Reading Something That Instills A Sense of Hope
Because you need it right now. Mary Oliver inspired me last month, and my all-time reliable is Emily Dickinson.
1. Bullet Journal
I have never had the
artistic talent patience for a bullet journal, but so many of my friends create absolutely beautiful and useful spreads. Here’s a guide to starting your own.
2. Gratitude Journal
Gratitude-journaling is scientifically-proven to lower stress levels and give people a greater sense of calm. This feels like a time where we could all use a greater sense of calm! It might be helpful to remember the positives at a time where it’s easy to swim in negatives.
I keep a general journal, and it anchors me. It forces me to keep track of what day it is, I can safety process what I’m feeling, and it helps me to notice things I would have otherwise forgotten.
4. Write A Letter
I! Love! Letters! Getting mail is my #1 joy in life. (There’s always good stuff in the mail! Magazines! Letters! Packages!) It’s also a good way to keep in touch with people that doesn’t involve a screen.
5. Plan A Camp NanoWrimo Project
Camp NanoWrimo is happening right now! (It also runs in July.) If you’ve always wanted to write a novel but “never had the time,” now could be the time to start a new project. I’ve set a goal of 500 words of writing a day – it’s not overwhelming, it’s not tied to a specific manuscript, but it gives me a little bit of structure in my day, and it keeps me writing. It’s something certain in uncertain times.
6. Write Haiku
Haiku are contained
and trustworthy. Haiku will
never let you down.
7. Revisit An Old Piece Of Writing
Start something but never finish? Revisit your writing archives and see if there’s a story that’s calling your name.
Arts & Crafts
1. Coloring Books
This situation feels like what all those de-stress coloring books were made for.
2. Do a Drawing
Special writer/reader suggestion: draw your favorite characters (including your own) and settings!
3. Try Nail Art
Maybe it’s because I look down at my nails so often as a writer typing away, but having pretty nails makes me happy.
4. Take (An Online) Museum Tour
Here are twelve museum tours you can take online! We need art, history, and community more than ever.
5.Make a Collage
I’ve spent like 40% of my Quarantine-time reading magazines, cutting them up, and pasting my favorite pictures and quotes into my journal. This is my supreme hobby – it combines reading, fashion, and writing. (Also glueing. Not to flex but I am an excellent gluer. Haven’t found a way to put that on my resume yet, but I’ll let you know if that changes.)
Will I finally finish the scarf that I’ve been working on since 2018? The world may never know.
7. Learn Embroidery
I want to learn how to embroider! Maybe now I actually will.
I am a self-confessed pacer. I walk three miles around my house everyday, thinking and processing and imagining. Keeps me sane. Drives my family insane. (Thanks for being patient, Mom + Dad + Sister). Would not recommend this one if you live in an apartment with people below you, but would HIGHLY recommend this one if you live someplace where you can safely walk outside. Movement + mindfulness = a good time.
2. Create A Pinterest Board
I have spent an ungodly amount of time on Pinterest. I’ve created a board for my future life, I’ve pinned nearly 1,000 images to my style board, and I am this. close. to creating a wedding board. But it brings me joy to imagine the future and read beautiful words and see incredible dresses! It might just give you the inspiration you need.
3. Clean or Redesign Your Workspace
Since you’re spending more time at home than usual, it might feel refreshing to clean, organize, or redecorate your space. Make it your own again.
Join the hordes of bread-makers on Instagram! Create delicious pastries to get us through these trying times! (Pro-tip from someone who is afraid of the stove: you can also just watch the Great British Baking Show on Netflix while eating old Girl Scout cookies. Same vibe.)
5. Make A Playlist
Writer twist: make a playlist for your novel! Or, create a writer’s playlist.
6. Discover New Music – and REALLY Listen to the Lyrics
If you haven’t done a deep-analysis of the lyrics to at least one Doja Cat, Taylor Swift, or Janelle Monae song, are you really in quarantine?
7. Get Lost in a Niche Corner of the Internet
I spent two hours reading about bookstores in Copenhagen and I regret nothing.
8. Take A Deep Breath
One night in middle school, I was so overwhelmed by the amount of work I had to do that I just sat and sobbed. My to-do list was endless, and I felt like I wasn’t smart enough to complete everything I had to do. My mom gently folded the list in half, and said, “Right now, you just need to take a deep breath. Then everything will be okay.”
Breathe in. Breathe out.
I don’t think I finished the to-do list, but I can’t really remember, because in the end, my mom was right: it was okay. Things have changed a lot. They will probably continue to change. But that doesn’t mean things won’t be okay; I have to believe that. I just take another breath.
Thanks for reading! How are you doing? Do you have anything you’re doing while social-distancing? Let me know in the comments. Stay well. Until next time, you can find me on Pinterest or Instagram.