How I’m Reigniting My Creative Spark During the Time of COVID

What has it been like to launch a post-apocalyptic book that takes place following a period of economic collapse and mysterious pandemic during an actual economic downward tailspin, series of stay at home orders, and side of civil unrest to boot? Well, let me be the first to tell you it’s been as rewarding as you would expect it to be.

In short, my book launch flopped.

Don’t worry. I’m not asking for you to send me a slew of sympathy notes. It’s okay. If you are reading these words, I already assume you are an empathetic soul who appreciates the arts or at least a supportive friend. Also, this wasn’t a surprise. I expected this outcome. I made my peace with it before I hit the publish button.

Lies and LegacyI could have waited for market conditions to improve. That’s what a number of traditional publishers have done. I didn’t, though, because who knows when that time will be and the series had already gone on long enough between volumes. I decided, if nothing else, I owed the readers who’d kindly given me a chance, closure. I owed myself closure too.

However, what I didn’t expect was the absolute loss of my creative spark following this decision. I’d written before that Lies & Legacy was the book that almost broke me. In the weeks following its publication, I found myself wondering if perhaps there was no ‘almost’ about it.

I’ve been seriously considering giving up the dream of achieving literary success to free up my time to focus more on my commercial non-fiction writing. It would be the sensible thing to do. Not only does my non-fiction efforts pay more reliably (and better), but it is also exponentially less stressful to produce. There is no lying awake dwelling on a one-star review or agonizing over how to address a stubborn plot hole. However, between you and me, it is not nearly as satisfying.

I found I couldn’t do it.

Still, it is one thing to say you eventually want to return to writing novels. You have to have the overwhelming determination and desire to create in you too, and mine was gone—just gone—and there was no telling when it might come back. And so, instead of writing, I spent the first half of the year doing what so many other people have done during this time. I baked (I now make a great soft pretzel). I gardened (I recently harvested my first potato). I pretended I was okay with everything when I was in front of my kids. I randomly burst into tears at the slightest provocation when I wasn’t. I did what I thought I had to do.

However, I realized one day, if I didn’t force myself back into the chair, then I might as well admit giving up the dream was no longer my choice to make. I could no longer wait for inspiration to strike—it was clearly practicing safe social distancing. Instead, if I wanted to return to fiction, I had to reignite my creative spark myself.

I returned to the basics. I cracked open one of the first craft books I’d ever purchased: the 90-day Novel (affiliate link) and followed instructions. I wrote for five minutes that first day. Five minutes was enough. I did it again the second day and the day after that. I was on a roll. Until I wasn’t. Days went by. However, a funny thing happened during this time. I wasn’t writing, but I’d planted a seed and it seemed the smallest fragment of a story had taken root in my brain.

I tried again—much to my other half’s chagrin as he’d rather enjoyed me not waking up with the sun for a pre-dawn writing sprint. Before I knew it, I had 1000 words on the page. Then 2000.

I now have over 20,000 words on the page of my latest WIP, and the start of a brand new series, which, one day in a not too distant and brighter future, I hope to share with you. It’s far from a steady blaze, but my creative spark is once again breaking up the night, and for the first time, in a long time, the dream doesn’t seem nearly as far away.

How am I reigniting my creative spark?

Simple—one word at a time.

12 thoughts on “How I’m Reigniting My Creative Spark During the Time of COVID

  1. I am glad to know you are writing again, Allie. It would be disappointing to have a book flop [although I’m not sure if any of mine are what anyone would call a huge success]. I also have a new book nearly ready to launch. I was aiming for October but I’ve pushed it out until December. I have poured my soul into this book for months and would prefer to give it every chance of success. Anyhow, we’ll see how it all goes.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The ego definitely has taken a hit, but I recognize that the only part that is really my fault was not finishing it sooner. I’ll probably hold on to this next book longer so the series is closer to completion before releasing it to the wild. Hope you have better luck!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. So cool that the 90-day novel book worked so well to get you back in your groove.
    Boy, oh boy, can I relate to your thoughts on the non-fic gig being better for paying the bills but not being as much fun to write. I’m sorry the launch didn’t go well, but am relieved that you’d made your peace with it. Even if you’d tried waiting, you’d probably have said, “Ah, the heck with it,” and published before this whole thing is over (who knows when) anyway, so might as well. I’m sure you made the right decision. Keep it up, AP!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yep. I’m pretty sure there was never going to be a good time. That said, now it’s all done I can always launch a box set at a later date. For now though, I’m just enjoying putting my all into a new idea.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Great news! You were at the natural end of a storyline when you finished the trilogy and I imagine that feels like emptying your brain. Then, the pandemic comes along and routines get disrupted and creativity goes into just day to day managing. No wonder it feels like there is nothing more to give. Glad you pushed through and looking forward to reading what comes out the other side.

    Liked by 1 person

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