Writing in 2020

We are nine months into the COVID-19 pandemic. The numbers of those infected with the virus are staggering. The new reports of those lost to the virus are crushing. We are two days away from Election Day 2020.

How difficult has it been to remain in the writing chair during all this? To describe it as difficult is, of course, a major understatement. Some days, I find it downright impossible to write or to remain in the writing chair. But I don’t have to tell you—you’ve lived it. I lived it. We’re still living the nightmare of the novel coronavirus.

If you’ve finished a book, especially if you’ve published a book in 2020, I applaud you. That’s a major feat. If, like me, you’re working on a book, bravo for sticking it out. Keep going. If you’ve put your manuscript to the side any time during 2020 to take care of yourself, your family, your sanity—you’re not alone. I believe that’s where many writers find themselves, including me.

In late March 2020, with rising infections and daily deaths in Washington State and New York City, our attention was on our families, suffering families across the nation, around the world. On protecting ourselves and our families against the novel coronavirus, and preparing for future food and supply shortages.

From April forward, we remained laser-focused on the White House—the insanity of Trump and the Senate GOP, and their soulless decisions and dangerous responses to and denial of science, scientists, epidemiologists, mask-wearing, and social-distancing regarding COVID-19. They put us all at risk. Every day. It’s not a crazy leap to believe they don’t care whether we live or die. Their callous and tone deaf decisions and dark comments hurt our hearts and souls. Trump’s lack of response and lack of consistent aid to the American people is still tragic.

Americans still worry about finances, paying bills, rent, and mortgages. We shed tears for our heroes—nurses, medical personnel, cleaning staff, and doctors who wore plastic bags when appropriate PPE was non-accessible. We grieve our lost jobs and businesses. We weep for loved ones and friends who are battling the virus. We mourn those who tragically lost their lives, died alone. We shed tears for exhausted doctors and nurses and wonder how they keep going day after day after day.

The GOP attacked our institutions, our laws, our democracy. They attacked US healthcare, immigration, immigrant children, the LGBTQ communities, women’s rights, the court system, the environment, the economy… you name it, they’ve had their sticky tentacles in every imaginable pot. And some pots we didn’t know existed. So much so, one can only conclude this attack was one huge comprehensive plan, begun decades ago—a perfect storm exacerbated by the novel coronavirus.

Yes, it’s been difficult to concentrate 100% on finishing my second book. When I couldn’t muster enough focus, I wrote blog posts about living during a pandemic. That helped a lot. At least it kept me in the writing chair.

So. What does this all mean for writers, especially full-time writers? How can we finish a book in 2020 with all that’s going on? STAY GROUNDED.

Be kind to yourself with positive thoughts, encouragement, and visualization.

Forgive yourself for being human. You’re doing the best you can in an impossible situation.

Take care of your emotional, spiritual, mental, and physical needs today for tomorrow.

Set a timer and a goal to write for ten minutes.

Write. Anything.

Practice self-care.

Add ten more minutes to the timer.

Start a journal or write blog posts about living through a pandemic.

Call or ZOOM with family, friends, and writer friends.

Read, meditate, move your body during writing breaks.

Stay in your body, feet on the ground.

Breathe, shake it out, sing, dance. Yell at the room if it helps.

Work in the garden, pot indoor plants.

Take a twenty-minute walk every day.

Add more time to the writing timer.

Go through your home, room by room, donate items you no longer use.

Take a drive.

Count your blessings. Help others. Give.

And the most important thing you can do today? An action that is certain to help you feel alive and empowered, grounded and hopeful for the future? Turn off the TV? Stop reading newspapers? Get off social media? Yes, all that is helpful. But what I believe is THE most important thing you can do to help yourself, your children, your community, your country, our future?

Vote. Yes, VOTE. We are two days away from Election Day. TWO DAYS. Drop off your mail-in ballot in person or at a designated ballot drop box in your community. Do not mail your ballot. Wear your mask, pack for the day, and vote in person on November 3!

If you’re tempted to sit this election out, don’t do that. Please consider voting this one and only time. This is the election of your lifetime. We need your vote. We need to revive and return to civility, honesty, integrity, and empathy in the United States of America.

If you’ve already voted, thank you. I’m encouraged by the millions of Americans who’ve voted in this election. I’m proud I voted.

Be on the right side of history. Vote for Joe Biden and Kamala Harris.

Cautiously optimistic and hopeful today,

Eleanor x


Puerto Rican-born Eleanor Parker Sapia is the multi-award-winning author of the best-selling novel, A DECENT WOMAN, a novel set in 1900 Puerto Rico, published by Winter Goose Publishing. Eleanor is writing her second novel, THE LAMENTS, set in 1926 Puerto Rico and working on her poetry collection. She lives with a sweet Chihuahua named Sophie and dreams of returning to the island of her birth as soon as possible.

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