This month marks three years since COVID-19 rocked our world. Undoubtedly, it has been a challenging time, and we are still seeing the effects today. Businesses are slowly recovering, while specialists assess the impact on the younger generations. You may have discovered a few hobbies or activities to make the past three years easier. For me, that was my second novel, The Sword of Sorenth. I began writing it shortly before COVID hit and published it in August 2022. It took roughly three years to create, most of that during the COVID season. This blog post highlights my experiences writing a novel during the pandemic and tips for pursuing your passion through struggling times.
Passing The Time With Things You Love
When everything shut down, there wasn’t a lot to do. Restaurants only served takeout, schools moved online, and most companies had employees working from home. Finding things to pass the time became tricky when you couldn’t leave your house. Everyone’s Netflix consumption skyrocketed, and when we became sick of watching The Office repeatedly, everyone started looking for new hobbies. Even now, many use hobbies as a brief escape from the real world. Maybe you don’t plan on making a full-fledged career out of it. But if that activity helps get you through those tough times, like COVID, then it’s worth pursuing. Since publishing my first book in 2019, I knew I wanted to continue with The Jewels of Fate series and build a career out of writing books. But on the tough days when the city was in hardcore lockdown, creating a fictional world was also a welcome escape. Taking these projects one day at a time is essential, though. Don’t set expectations for yourself you can’t meet. If you’re serious about growing this hobby to something more, implementing business strategies is important. But if it’s just a hobby, have fun with it. Do it because you want to, not because you think you should.
For me, reading became another form of escape from the craziness of COVID-19. Reading was also an activity I was doing more of because of the many days stuck at home. It was a way to relax before bed and get inspired to write The Sword of Sorenth. Of course, I didn’t realize the books I read inspired me until I saw how my novel developed over time. In my last blog post, I talked about how reading can help you learn how to write. But there’s another reason reading is so beneficial. Whether you realize it or not, it fuels your imagination. Over the pandemic, some of my favourite reads included the Throne of Glass series by Sarah J Maas, One of Us is Lying by Karen M Mcmanus and The Guest List by Lucy Foley. When customers ask me where I get my inspiration, I tell them about the books I read in my childhood. It would be hard to pinpoint exactly how these novels impacted The Jewels of Fate or The Sword of Sorenth but it’s so much easier to write well when you enjoy what you’re reading.
Working With The Family
Another question I get asked often is what it was like writing a novel while cooping up at home with my family. Yes, my parents and my younger sister were working at home then. Yes, occasionally, that made working on a book a little challenging. These circumstances forced me to figure out how to create my own “office” space where I could focus. My office became the desk in my bedroom where my laptop sits. Whether doing schoolwork or book stuff, I’d go in my room and try to maintain regular office hours…as much as possible. It was also necessary to figure out when it was time to focus on the book, when it was time to focus on school, and when it was time to do neither. My biggest challenge became treating school and the author business like a job. Working from the house is much harder than being at school or in a formal office because we can get distracted by all the pleasures of home: TV, a kitchen, a bed etc. One of the first blog posts I ever published offers a few tips on working from home.
Marketing The Jewels of Fate
When COVID hit, my strategy for marketing my first novel changed drastically. One fun fact I enjoy mentioning in presentations and podcasts: the first novel launched as a paperback the same day COVID-19 hit the Niagara Region, where I live. I had one day to deliver any pre-orders to my high school. Any other marketing and promotional efforts were entirely online. I learned how to run my social media, build a website and start this writing blog. I did virtual presentations. It wasn’t easy, not only due to the challenges of running a business online but because that excessive amount of screen time can take a toll. Take breaks and have a routine that allows you to do the best work possible, whether for yourself or the organization you work for, without facing burnout.
So yes, writing a novel during the pandemic has its challenges. But there were also opportunities not available otherwise. The pandemic taught me the digital side of marketing a book and how to create a routine even when working from home. And when things are tough, take it one day at a time. Moving forward just a bit is better than not moving forward at all.
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Want Tyler to speak at your school, library, youth group, organization or conference about the challenges of writing a novel during COVID? Click the icon below for more information about Tyler's author presentation "Coping During Stressful Times by Pursuing Your Passion."