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Reflections of Writing Through a Pandemic


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It’s been a year since my husband began tracking COVID-19 on the CDC maps and telling me things weren’t looking good. A year since I brushed him off, telling him he was being an alarmist and trying to go about business as usual. After all, we were all too busy to worry about a virus—we’d all lived through things like SARS and H1N1—this would be no different, right?

Of course, as we all know now, I was wrong. I don’t think anyone expected how quickly the virus would spread and the toll it would take on the health of our friends and family, as well as the difficulties our children would combat by not being able to see their friends or attend school in person. We all know how bad things have been, but today I decided to reflect on how living through a global pandemic made me a more productive writer/creator. 

Things could have gone one way or the other for me. I could have let myself sink into an abyss of depression, worry and anxiety and get the bare minimum done as far as my writing. The first few months were filled with the unknown—working for a magazine publishing group that focuses on lifestyle topics, I didn’t know how long we would be able to keep things going when everything was shut down. Our ad revenue suffered, but I tried to keep the content fresh and engaging, pivoting towards how people in the community were pulling together in spite of the stay-at-home orders from our governor. I’m happy to report we didn’t miss one issue during this time (and we had even launched a new magazine last April!) 

On the personal front, I had a lot of extra time on my hands last spring when stores were closed, restaurants were doing curbside pick-up or delivery only and the only errand I was running involved finding groceries. I had been mulling over starting up a true crime podcast, but it was during that time that I pulled together all my initial research and broke out the microphone that had been sitting boxed up in my office. I’ve now produced 25 episodes of a missing persons podcast, have a stack of content I can repurpose into a potential non-fiction book project, beefed up my blog with additional true crime posts and began producing short videos in the genre for my social media channels. 

Yes, it’s been hard on all of us. I’m heartbroken over the lives lost, and the fact that in the United States, we were given no federal mandate on how to best handle the pandemic, leaving all the states to try and make the decisions on people’s health and livelihoods on their own. But I’m more optimistic now as I see more and more people opting to get the available vaccines, and schools and businesses reopening slowly. I’m hoping all the work I put in trying to move through the hardest thing I’ve ever lived through in my lifetime and stay productive as a writer will reward me in the long run. 

Have you been more productive in your writing life during the pandemic? I’d love to hear your thoughts. 

Renee Roberson is an award-winning freelance writer and magazine editor who also hosts the true crime podcast, Missing in the Carolinas. Learn more at FinishedPages.com.

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