This Is The New Normal

In April, 14 Million people in the USA applied for unemployment benefits.  Six million people applied for emergency assistance in Canada.  Around the world, the numbers of unemployed and those with reduced income are proportional to populations.

Last week, my government spoke for the first time about the duration of emergency measures:  All public events scheduled up until the end of summer are cancelled — and this is a big deal for my city, which sees major revenue from summer festivals.

This is not an end date, either.  It is merely how long the lockdown will last for now.

For the first time, a financial authority (no less than the International Monetary Fund) has mentioned the “D” word.  We are no longer wondering if the world is heading for a recession.  We’re now braced for a full-on Depression equivalent to–and possibly worse than–the Great Depression of the 1930s.

It’s grim. It’s, well, depressing.

But you know what else it is?  It’s reality.

We cannot continue to linger at home, tinkering, blowing time and sleeping.  The Great Pause will continue throughout summer and into fall.  We can’t really call it a Pause anymore.  It’s the new normal.

I fell into this trap at least twice in the last few weeks (and I’ll be talking about that more in later posts).  I had got into the habit of thinking that everything was temporary, and that I could put off a lot of stuff that I would deal with when everything got back to normal.

I instituted a half-dozen major changes to deal with the crises (both viral and financial), but some of them I half-assed, because I figured I’d be switching back to normal sooner or later.

And many of those changes and half-changes were not just with the writing business, but in my personal life, too.

Only, everything in an indie fiction writer’s personal life has a direct bearing upon the writing business.

Eating crap and junk food because it’s cheap, and not bothering to workout because the gyms are closed are two of the more common temporary habits I’ve seen authors adopting (and a lot of other people, too!)

Both are critical components of an indie writer’s ability to write good stories.

There are many others.  Letting your sleep patterns drift, sleeping for ten and twelve hours a day, vegging on the couch and binge watching NetFlix.  Not showering until you offend not just yourself, but the entire neighborhood.  Not writing today, because you’ve got all the time in the world now, so you can catch up tomorrow.

Keeping your promotion efforts in a holding pattern until things settle back to normal, because trying to figure out what readers want and how to give it to them is too hard right now — no one knows anything, and besides, it’s all going to change back to normal in a bit….

Does any of this sound like sub-conscious thoughts that have drifted through your mind lately?

Yeah, join the club.

WHO SAYS IT WON’T CHANGE BACK SOON?

A tiny voice in my head whispers in response to that question:  Do you really want it to go back to what it was?

There’s been some really interesting, positive outcomes from the lockdown:  Diminishing greenhouse gases and disappearing smog are just two.

Time to think, reflect and make decisions is another.

And a not-so-obvious benefit is that now change is forced on us in a massive scale, it is the perfect time to introduce personal changes for the better, while we’re all reeling from the impact.

If you like and want things to go back to exactly what they were, and soon, you’re out of luck.  Nothing will happen soon.  Every authority out there is talking about the end of summer at least, and most likely into 2021 before the pandemic diminishes.  A true Depression will take years to sort itself out.

The Stoics believe in hoping for the best, but planning for the worst.

The best, in this case, is that the conditions you are currently operating under will continue until at least the end of summer.

The worst is that we will be scrambling to make enough to put dinner on the table for years to come, and there will be little left over for much else.

In September, last year, I optimistically suggested that a recession was coming and what indie writers can do to deal with it.  I hadn’t heard of the outbreak in China then, and even when I did, I still didn’t grasp how bad it would be.

Then in March this year, I wrote again about dealing with the financial impact, and spent a lot of time analysing how book reading fared during the Depression.  Even in March, I was still thinking “recession”, though.

Everything I said in both posts is even more relevant now.

If you’ve let your routines and rituals drift, it’s time to pick yourself up, dust off, and go back to work.  Rebuild your writing schedule.  Rebuild your Production Schedule.

And now is the time to re-think how you work, and where you want your writing business to head for the next few years.  Then knock yourself out making it happen now, and not later, when this is over.

Don’t wait until things go back to normal, because they won’t.   Even when the recession/depression is over, and the pandemic is merely a part of history, normal will not look anything like it did last September.

Pivot your business, restructure your time, then go back to work.

t.

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