When I sit down to write lately, hemmed in by COVID and various levels of quarantine, I don’t feel focused or productive. How do I write when everything is happening in the same place when work and life and chores and yesterday and next month have no edges to separate them? How do I write through an unending emergency where doing my part means collapsing work and life and family into a single screen? Enthusiastic think pieces tell me staying home is an opportunity for more, but on this side of the looking glass, I am moving very fast just to keep up. I have plenty to do, and so does everyone I know.
As I work without effective boundaries, I find myself more and more falling back on some life advice from an old martial arts teacher: we can do better tomorrow, but we’re doing the best we can today. I try to be kind to myself. I try to approach my projects with an awareness that my best for today is all I can do, and that that’s okay.
When I tie myself to word counts or page counts or “getting it done,” my progress slows to a crawl and I am quickly distracted by the laundry, the cleaning, or any of the dozen other things that need doing. But when I let myself do what I can without judgment, I begin to breathe again. Some words arrive on my pages – imperfect words, in an imperfect structure, but one that works well enough for now.
In each moment, that’s how I’m getting through. I’m letting it be okay if I finish the time I have with nothing new on the page. It’s my best for today, and maybe I will write a little more tomorrow.