Today’s blog post is taken from my newsletter. I rarely duplicate content, but I think this message bears repeating!
Most if not all of the readers of this blog are probably feeling despair, fear, anger, anguish, vulnerability, and who knows what else in the aftermath of a bitter election that exposed a deeply divided United States. This is disturbing no matter who you voted for. For international readers, you are probably worried about the global repercussions of the election.
What does this have to do with writing?
It’s nearly impossible to remain focused when you’re under immense stress. To call the news a “distraction” would be a gross understatement. It would also belittle the magnitude of the troubles we are facing.
These are the moments when you don’t want to get out of bed. Moments when you become sucked into an endless social media cycle. Moments where you are faced with horrific images that are impossible to avoid and hard to forget.
On top of the stress there is guilt. It might seem indulgent or even crass to focus on your work when you feel like you should do something. You might feel like in the grand scheme of things, your work is not very important. You might even feel helpless.
For better or for worse, you are an educator. Whether you are in the classroom or not, if you are subscribed to this newsletter you are likely a writer. It is through your words that you educate. You present information to your readers and expose them to facts, people, and experiences that they may have never encountered before. Through doing this, you can build a sense of empathy – which is so vitally needed right now. You also generate ideas, and contributing to a marketplace of ideas is essential to sustaining democracy. Your writing gives you to opportunity to provoke, persuade, and inform, while jumpstarting the conversations we will need to have if we hope to move forward.
There are no easy answers. All I know is that time is a valuable and finite resource. When our productivity becomes compromised, we lose.
If you allow yourself to be pulled away from your work, you are conceding.
I wish I had a list of reasons to encourage you to keep writing. I will say this: I think of this distraction as a sort of compound interest. The manuscript you don’t work on today becomes the delay in your publishing pipeline. The abstract you can’t write becomes a missed conference. The writing session you ignore is a missed opportunity for you to share your work with people who desperately need to read it.