Every so many months, I force myself to take stock of my current situation and attitudes, reviewing the goals I had set myself and working out if I am still on track—or whether things have been completely derailed.
With all the crazy that the last six months has throw at the world, this particular review seems to be more important than ever.
New Zealand, my home country, has just moved into Level 1 lockdown, meaning that our domestic economy can get a reboot. We still have border restrictions, with all those coming into the country still facing quarantine, but all internal restrictions on businesses and travel has been removed, and life can go back to normal.
But for me, going back to normal is NOT going back to pre-COVID life. There are aspects of that pre-COVID life that I want to leave behind.
So, this review is not just looking at the goals I had set myself at the start of the year, but taking stock of my current situation and comparing it to pre-COVID life. It's time to decide was post-COVID life will look like—at least for the beginning. I encourage all of my readers to do the same.
I'm a person who thrives on routine.
In the past few months, I have noticed that I'm a person who thrives on a consistent routine. And when that routine is disrupted by things out of my control, everything else goes topsy-turvy.
Back in November 2019, during the NaNoWriMo season, I developed the habit of getting up at O'Dark:30 to write and watch the sunrise. I have always enjoyed watching the sunrise, as evident by my abundance of sunrise photos. But that routine had fueled my creativity. I would get in some words before the sunrise, slowly waking up my brain, and after the sunrise, I would write for a good three/four hours. I got so much done and I felt good.
COVID didn't really change this aspect of my life. The country went into full Level 4 Lockdown, and I had no issues with continuing to get up before the sunrise and taking my photos from my backyard. The only difference: every day resembled the weekend, with two teenagers sleeping until noon and one husband sitting quietly at the dining room table to have his coffee and read the news.
However, when New Zealand went into Level 2 Lockdown mid-May 2020, my routine was totally flipped upside down. My daughter had returned to high school classes on campus, and I drove her to and from school. Granted, that was my choice—I could have forced her to take the bus—but COVID was still a thing, and I was a little more than paranoid. In addition, the social distancing restrictions on the school buses was crazy, and many students could not fit on the bus. Driving her to school was just easier.
And my daughter was happy to take advantage of it.
But that routine meant that my morning writing was limited to only one hour, two tops. And the drive to her school and back meant I was away from the computer for at least an hour. When I got back to the keyboard, I would need to start all over again with trying to get into the writing rhythm. I'd find that rhythm just in time to shut everything down again to pick up my daughter from school.
Let's just say that Level 1 will be a welcome change. I want my morning writing routine back!
But my afternoon/evening routines from pre-COVID can gladly disappear forever. Before Lockdown, I had spent soooo much time on the internet fluffing around on social media or doing random research that really wasn't needed. I would also spend hours on end talking to my writing partner in the US—getting no writing or editing done. The way I was spending my time was destructive and needed to change.
During Lockdown, noticing my bad habits, I took steps to disconnect from the internet. I spent less time on social media (though the temptation to be sucked in is still there) and I spent far less time on the video calls with my writing partner. And I found a more level-headed approach to life. Even my husband has taken steps to disconnect from the internet like I have and he's noticing the changes within his own attitude.
My husband and I developed the routine of going for a walk in the evening every night. He gets home from work and we go. It's time we have alone together, and it's time that makes me feel happy.
We talk. We laugh. We share our concerns. And we get a little exercise while doing it. Both my husband and I have decided that this is a part of Lockdown life that we will continue into post-COVID life.
Grocery shopping has changed.
Another part of Lockdown life that will stay is how I do the grocery shopping. Pre-COVID, I would go to the store every week, with little forethought as to what we actually needed and what we didn't. Yes, I had a menu plan and a shopping list, but more often than not, I would get one of the kids commenting on how many boxes of chai latte I had, or how many packets of crackers. And many vegetables would go off as they would disappear into the depths of the fridge when the fresh stuff was put in there.
During Lockdown, I had to plan my trips to the grocery store, because they were a mission and a half. The queues to get into the store were annoying as hell, and if I wanted to avoid the massive queues, I needed to be there when the store opened (and even then, sometimes I misjudged how long the lines would be). Just popping down to the store because we ran out of milk was not an option.
If we ran out of milk, we did without.
But the fridge was actually empty when I went shopping. All the perishables were eaten and our wastage went down. We were buying just want we needed—with the odd treat thrown in because I could.
No, our grocery bill didn't go down. It went up. I was buying less, and the grocery bill soared. I wasn't the only one who noticed it either. Everything had gone up in price. It might have only been by a few cents here and there, but it all added up. I think my most expensive shopping during Lockdown life was in the order of $550 for just over a week's worth of food. My husband and I dissected that bill, stunned at how the $0.30 price increases added up so quickly.
Post-COVID, the cost of groceries better come down, or many people will be in serious trouble.
Regardless, I'll be keeping my grocery shopping to the fridge-is-empty days.
My writing groups have resumed—at last!
The one part of pre-COVID life that I was desperately missing was my writing groups. We had run the odd Zoom meeting, because we could, but it just wasn't the same. There's something to be said about going out to a coffee shop, ordering that chai latte or whatever else, and just talking about writing with other writers. And the topics would go everywhere.
Those meetings have now resumed, and I didn't realize how much I just needed that chat about something my family would never understand and the accountability that went with it.
The writing goals remain the same.
Back in November 2019, I had posted what my goals were on a writing/editing front for 2020. Looking at those goals, no revision is required.
I wanted to have another full-length fiction novel written by the end of October 2020. That's still the goal, and I'm tracking along rather well. I now know what the full plot is of this latest manuscript, and I'm finding the rhythm of these characters. And my bad guy is making me smile. I feel confident that I will reforge the routine that I need to be highly productive with the tweaks that make me feel good about myself.
I had also set myself the goal to refine some of my editing tools and share them with others through the resources found on Black Wolf Editorial Services.
And the one thing that has me excited is running online workshops. I have identified what platform I'll likely use. Now to just write the material and get on with producing the content. And the guinea pigs are lining up to test out the courses as I get the material ready.
I suppose you can say that from a writing/editing perspective, the last six months haven't really changed things for me, because they haven't. But physically and mentally, I have shed a lot of pre-COVID dead weight during the Lockdown, and I'm looking forward to post-COVID life.