I long for the times when we could read and write dystopian fiction without feeling frightened for our very real lives.
For a short three or so months now (yeah, it’s only been that long), we have woken up daily to news that just seems so unreal. Corruption, violence, restrictions of our rights, a resurgence of Nazism, denials of science and facts… It is a heavy weight, and it feels impossible to concentrate on anything else while the world appears to be falling apart.
I’ve taken some comfort in the knowledge that as a writer and creator I’m not alone in these feelings. An ongoing (and very cynical) joke on Twitter is that entertainers, artists, celebrities, etc. wish they could go back to Tweeting about their work, or about stupid things, but they just can’t focus on anything outside of the current disaster that is the Trump administration (and Brexit, and the rise of fascism in multiple Western countries).
It’s hard enough writing without these distractions. Writer’s Block has taken on a whole new form.
For me the anxiety has doubled since November, and it is overwhelming; not only am I worried that no one will care about my writing or that it won’t be successful — but now I also worry that my writing will never see the light of day because it’s starting to feel like we’re all doomed, and if we’re not living in the nuclear winter of the Fallout franchise within the next two years, we’ll probably be living under a fascist regime where writers and other artists and creators are heavily censored and even threatened or “disposed of.”
I wanted to write a post with advice about how to get over this and get back to writing. The problem is, I haven’t figured out how to do that yet. Please, by all means, if you have advice, please share it with me.
I’ve been editing my novel, but slowly. I don’t have a professional deadline, so the pressure for me is less than that of many of the authors I follow on Twitter. Still, it’s a goal of mine in life to be published — THE goal of my life, honestly. But it’s so difficult writing this story in particular, because it is, in fact, a dystopian novel. I wrote the first draft during the 2015 campaigns and it is heavily inspired by thoughts I had at the time: What if Trump wins (he won’t, but what if) and we become an authoritarian dictatorship instead of a democratic republic? I didn’t think it would happen. I didn’t think my dystopia would become reality.
I only seem to be able to concentrate on writing when I’m at my full-time job, where I’m not allowed to go on social media for 7-8 hours a day.
Maybe that’s it. Maybe that’s the solution: Turn off your social media. Fuck, if you can, then disconnect from it entirely. Delete your accounts if you have little reason to keep them, or at least unfollow non-personal pages (i.e. outside of your family and friends). All I know is which practices have helped me think about other things for a while. Staying away from social media, for one — especially Twitter. Yoga three or more times a week. Lots and lots of warm, strong tea. Eating healthier. Seeing friends and family, and avoiding being alone with nothing but the Internet to keep me company. Maybe these will work for you too. Maybe not. But don’t underestimate the power of self-care.
If worse comes to worse, just remember: Culture is more important now than ever before. The world needs your creation and your imagination. If anything, use the current state of the world as motivation to get your shit done. You want to contribute to the resistance? You want to show bravery in the face of hardship and oppression? You want to help people escape?