Writing and Coping with Our World
My social media has been full of posts about how we are coping with the pandemic, and how we feel we should be coping with the pandemic, and also large amounts of existential dread from all directions. Your social media is probably very much the same.
A writer friend of mine, Lee Ann Kostempski, recently had a short story published in the first issue of 34 Orchard (both the magazine and the story are pretty awesome and you should definitely check them out!). She also wrote this really great blog post about having her first publication happen at this particularly anxiety-inducing moment in history.
And then today I ended up reading Nathan Bransford's blog, which I used to read religiously, but had somehow lost track of for awhile. He wrote this blog post with the much-needed reminder that "there will be a time after this one. There will be books. People are going to be reading."
My experience of writing right now has gone back and forth between getting writing done, and binge-watching shows that I find comforting.
My recommendation for coping with the situation right now (based entirely on my own experience)? Spend less time scrolling through social media. It's the perfect place for all your anxieties to be thrown at you all day. You can stay well-informed without scrolling endlessly through the same end-of-the-world headlines all day. It's also the perfect place for mob mentality to take over and turn a reasonable discussion into a name-calling game where nobody wins and everyone leaves the situation more stressed out, annoyed, and nihilistic than when they opened up the app.
Mary Pipher, PhD writes really well about the toll that constant bad news and far-away disaster has on our empathy in her book Writing to Change the World. We're meant to be empathetic beings, and our empathy is meant to cause us to help people dealing with a crisis. It wears on our empathy when we feel powerless in the face of a crisis. The book came out in 2007, and I think our relationship to social media makes that point even more important.
Let me leave you with a quote of hers, and the hope that we all consider what effect our words will have on the world.
“Language imparts identity, meaning, and perspective to our human condition. Writers are either polluters or part of the cleanup.”