Could the coronavirus (COVID-19) impact writers? If so, how? Are there things writers can do to prepare for potential impacts?
Before we dive into potential impacts of COVID-19 (commonly referred to as the coronavirus) on writers, I want to emphasize this post is meant to complement more urgent notices. Please follow the guidance of health care and government officials in your handling of this.
For a week now, I've gone back and forth on whether to post anything about this health crisis for a couple reasons:
- It was hard to tell how widespread the impact would be.
- I was not sure of potential impacts specifically to writers.
However, I've experienced runs on grocery stores and school closings locally. Plus, I've seen many other impacts on writers and publishing professionals nationally over the past few days. I don't own a crystal ball, but it appears some short-term disruption to "business as usual" is inevitable.
With that in mind, let's look at a few possible ways writers can prepare for COVID-19.
If you love to write and have a story you want to tell, the only thing that can stand between you and the success you’re seeking isn’t craft, or a good agent, or enough Facebook friends and Twitter followers, but fear. Fear that you aren’t good enough, or fear the market is too crowded, or fear no one wants to hear from you. Fortunately, you can’t write while being in the flow and be afraid simultaneously. The question is whether you will write fearlessly.
Could the Coronavirus Impact Writers?
Honestly, COVID-19 has impacted many people already, whether they feel certain reactions are warranted or not. Personally, I know people on all sides of the issue. That said, writers and other publishing professionals are feeling real impacts.
Many people know about the cancellation of the 2020 South by Southwest conference in Austin, Texas. But many other smaller events have been cancelled or postponed too. In fact, news broke yesterday that the LA Times Festival of Books has been postponed to October this year.
In addition, some colleges and local school systems have closed or gone to digital education days to attempt assisting social distancing strategies to halt spread of the virus. Many businesses have encouraged or ordered their employees to work from home.
All of these impacts don't even take into consideration the actual health impacts of COVID-19 if writers come into contact with it. As such, the impact of this virus spreads well beyond what I'm used to seeing.
A Few Ways for Writers to Prepare for COVID-19
Of course, this list is meant to be used in addition to any actions you take to protect your own health and the health of those around you. But here are a few ways writers can prepare for potential impacts of the coronavirus on their writing lives.
- Keep an eye on upcoming literary events. In my personal Facebook feed, I've seen people recently attend the AWP Conference and other book-related events. But I've also seen events cancelled and know writers have changed their personal plans. Be aware and flexible.
- Be prepared to write on your desktop. With a potential influx of students and workforce expected to work and play from home, there have been questions about whether that will impact the internet. At a minimum, there may be small disruptions in service and speed. So if you usually type your stories into Google docs or some other cloud-based program, be ready to type on your desktop to avoid the frustration of a program that can't keep up with your typing.
- Submit sooner than later. Related to the previous point, avoid waiting until the deadline to submit your work to publishers, contests, etc. While this is usually a good practice anyway, you don't want to miss a deadline because of a temporary glitch with your internet connectivity.
My hope is that this post becomes dated and unnecessary as soon as possible and that everyone who reads this (as well as those who don't) stays safe and healthy. At the same time, please let me know if I'm overlooking other potential impacts for writers specifically. I'll be sure to update the list if appropriate.