Writing Tip: Juggling Roles During the Pandemic
During the Pandemic
I once wrote about having it all proclaiming it is a possibility given the right circumstances. But during a pandemic, it feels like all bets were off. It felt impossible running my two careers, homeschooling a special needs child, and keeping up with household duties. How did I make it through the roughest spring I ever had? How do I intend to make it through a possibly rougher or equally rough fall?
Over the past decade, I had a pretty balanced life despite it being busy. I like busy. I had no issue writing and submitting two novels/year, being there for my son, and being a dependable and well-liked lecturer. Then COVID struck. Just like everyone else, my life drastically altered in the spring of 2020. I teach college English, and I went home on a Friday for spring break to never go back. Everything had to be thrown online and since then, we have lived in a stressful state of uncertainty. My normal 8-hr days turned into 16 hours of trying to homeschool a kid with double attention span limitations who would only do work for me, while teaching my 80 students, and grading their work. There were nights my husband had to push food in front of my face because I hadn't left my computer all day to eat. Having it all was no longer what it was cracked up to be.
How I survived:
1) Delegate Duties: My husband's work shut down, so that was the only way I made it through. He did almost all of the yardwork, housework, and caring for our child. Without his help, I really think I would've had a nervous breakdown and I'm saying that in all seriousness.
2) Set Up Deadlines (and stick to them): I always conquer my writing deadlines. I usually finish early. I plotted out my grading, teaching, and homeschool on a daily schedule and a calendar of deadlines. I had trouble sticking to the schedule but hit my deadlines for my son's schoolwork and my work. Having ADHD and some anxiety issues, having a plotted out life plan to follow was a necessity or I would've been easily overwhelmed. Breaking it up into bits is much easier than staring at everything and panicking it cannot be done.
3) Drop Goals (or postpone): This past spring, I had zero time to write; luckily, I had no deadlines or edits with my publishers until May, and I had been ahead in the manuscript I needed to submit. I decided to drop my goal for submitting a spring 2021 novel and gave up my publishing slot. It was a difficult decision, but I have to anticipate that I'll be unable to write again this fall. I've written a rough draft of a book this summer and plan to revise and edit that for my December deadline. There is no way I can also write a novel this fall and winter to edit and submit a second novel; in short, I dropped my 2-book/year goal to 1 book until life returns to normal.
4) Be Easy On Yourself: I learned that during COVID, it was impossible to do it all well. There were times I was an absent parent, my bathrooms were disgusting, my floors were grimy, and we would almost have no food left before I would make that shopping trip. Often we ate unhealthy delivery, and my kid was on electronic devices way too much. The yard became unmanageable and we are having a crew come in to reset our property. We must all lower our expectations of what we can do. We must adjust to the idea that nothing can be perfect in this COVID world. It is completely okay to be a neglectful parent when working remotely; it is completely okay to make students wait a day before responding to a an email to care for your child. The juggling of roles will become harder, but I'm lowering my expectations about each role. Our goal is merely to survive physically and mentally to a brighter future of normalcy.
Oh, and then I kick my former writing goals' butts. 3 books/year post COVID? Who knows?