Monday, 13 September 2021

Write Amidst the Storm

 I need not remind Australians that for the majority of us, the past eighteen months have been a period unlike any other in our lives. That includes writers. Bookstores have been shut, many never to reopen. Sales have been down. Libraries have been closed, so no PLR. Publishers have been hit hard. Events have been cancelled, and re-cancelled. Gatherings have been forbidden by government edicts. Homes with children usually at school have been thrust into the realm of home schooling, and a pandemic of fear has seen panic buying and frenzied behaviour uncharacteristic of our usually “laid back” Aussie culture.

What’s a writer to do?

I know for a fact people have been very creative in their responses to this. Many have established online groups, often expanding their reach in innovative ways. (I’m talking to you, Tamika Spaulding, and your Tassie crew!) Others have managed to use this opportunity to get writing done and release more books. (I’ll confess a twinge of envy.) Others have got stuck into making promotional book videos (Meredith Resce). The list is impressively lengthy.

For myself, in addition to the whole “close the country” down thingy, I had my own “shut down” of sorts. This wasn’t as dramatic as it sounds and without boring you with details, essentially I had to pull back from pretty much everything I’d been involved with to that point—which was already reduced due to a crazy-busy three years preceding that. I’ve been gradually crawling out of my hole, but my productivity was downright lousy for most of 2020.

What can we do when writing gets hard? Here are a few tips from my “Top Ten Block Busters” presentation, shared at a recent visit with the Rose City Writers:

1) Embrace the season and cut yourself some slack:

Frustration is unhelpful and takes a lot of energy. Even social media can be exhausting during such periods, which makes promotion an even bigger mountain. Our goals might look completely unattainable. It’s okay to cut ourselves some slack and let things slide on occasion, but don’t give up the ideas that will occasionally filter in. Jot them down for another time, for seasons come and go. Swings and roundabouts, as my significant other would say.

2) Do what you can to keep the creative muscle alive:

It just happened that when this conundrum hit, a couple of Quirky Quills (our local writing group), Kirsten Hart and Nola Passmore, and I were regularly meeting to work through online writing development courses. Although things struck a bit of a snag, I already had accountability and something I could focus on to keep things creeping forward. Even when our meetings were sporadic and my motivation negative ten, we were still able to set little goals that were feeding our inner creative capabilities. And out of that, when an opportunity for a short story did arise, I was able to apply what we’d been working on and submit a short story to the recent “Crossed Spaces Anthology” released by Rhiza Edge Press.

Crossed Spaces Anthology, Rhiza Edge Press

 3) Something is better than nothing:

You’ve heard me say it before, but it’s true. Even ten minutes once a week will see you write more than nothing. And when those swings and roundabouts turn, you’ll have something to keep going with. This also gives you a chance to celebrate a little win here and there. And who knows, it might just turn into a submission opportunity when you least expect it.

So even if it your writing productivity currently feels like you’re swimming in a pond of slowly solidifying craft glue, be encouraged: seasons change and opportunity comes to us all. Eventually.

Queensland author Adele Jones writes young adult near-science fiction (that is, until reality catches up with her stories!) exploring the underbelly of bioethics and confronting teen issues that include disability, self-worth, loss, domestic conflict, and more. She also writes historical fiction, poetry, inspirational non-fiction and short fictional works, with themes of social justice, humanity, faith, natural beauty and meaning in life’s journey. Adele’s first YA novel Integrate (book one of the Blaine Colton Trilogy) was awarded the 2013 CALEB Prize for unpublished manuscript. As a speaker she seeks to present a practical and encouraging message by drawing on themes from her writing. For more visit or


  1. Thanks Adele for your helpful, balanced advice. I'd love to hear your full top ten. Lowered productivity can nibble away the contentment of high achievers like yourself so I'm delighted you were able to find peace and opportunity while riding out the doldrums.

    1. I hear you loud and clear, Mazzy, but don't forget to celebrate each of those seemingly small achievements (even if it feels like a case of one step forward, two steps back). I'm keen to see the culmination of your efforts over the past couple of years. I know it's been a big period for your.

  2. Yes, Adele, thank you for coming to our humble little group, your talk was well received. I too am starting to crawl out of my own little space. And thanks for your tips, they helped to get started again. Cheers and God bless.

    1. It was my pleasure, Ray. I thoroughly enjoyed my time with the group and hope everyone was able to take home something helpful from my presentation. Pleased to hear you're testing the outside air beyond your hidey-hole and gaining a little traction with your writing too.

  3. Thanks for that, Adele. I felt I was going great guns with my writing earlier in the year. Then life happened and I got weighed down under jobs, family tasks, health issues and a general case of the blahs where it seemed like getting another book together was way off the radar. But there have been a few things happening that I can't control and I do need to 'cut myself some slack'. Also, thanks for the reminder that something is better than nothing. I recently wrote half a scene and it's been sitting there for a few weeks unfinished. But at least it's half a scene and sometime soon, it will be finished. Then the next scene. One step at a time. Thanks for the encouragement, and I hope your writing surges ahead in leaps and bounds soon.