How to Shelter in Place aka Work from Home in the Age of Corona
Well, 2020 has proven to be quite a year already!
I thought nothing could rival 2019 (or 2018) for craziness, but here we are, stuck in our homes thanks to a deadly virus.
As a writer, staying home is something I already do. You might say that I do it professionally. I’ve been doing it for twenty years, and it doesn’t actually bother me. Sometimes, when I’m very late on a book, I won’t leave home for weeks at a time (something I’m able to do thanks to delivery services and my husband). I call this going “deep undercover,” like in Beverly Hills Cop II when Axel Foley goes “deep, deep undercover.”
If you, like many people worldwide, have been sent home to work or attend class remotely, are in quarantine, are doing a stay-cation because your vacation has been postponed due to Covid-19, or you’re obeying recent CDC/White House guidelines on COVID-19 and are staying in for a while so as to help flatten the curve and save those who are at risk, here are my Do’s and Don’ts on how to do it without going too nutty:
- Don’t listen to the people who say, “Shakespeare wrote King Lear while he was quarantined with the plague! You should be able to write something great while you’re quarantined!” Remember that Shakespeare did not have streaming services, texting, food delivery, 24 hour news television, antibiotics, romance novels, or birth control. Don’t compare yourself to Shakespeare. That’s just dumb.
- Do talk to friends, either via text, social media, on the phone, or in person (if it is safe to do so). If you don’t communicate with other people, you will eventually lose it and start hiding bags of M&Ms under the couch, or think that you are Axel Foley on a stake out. Not that I’ve ever done this. I’m just saying this is an example of things that could happen. Read The Accidental Tourist by Anne Tyler for more on this. I do think it’s important for the mental health of most people to get outside and socialize–just NOT during a pandemic.
- Do have a goal every day. It doesn’t have to be anything as lofty as writing a novel or even running up and down your stairs 88 times a day (I knew someone who worked at home who did this). Your personal goal could be to write a page of a novel a day or read a Meg Cabot book (for instance) or even do laundry or watch every single episode of Law and Order ever made (this is my personal goal and I still have not achieved it in twenty years. I know, I need to try harder). Just have a goal. It’s important to want to achieve something every day, but also not to beat yourself up if you don’t make it.
- Don’t listen to all the people who say, “Wear your work attire during working hours while you’re at home so you feel like you’re working.” Do this if you want, but just FYI cops who are on stake outs (see above Axel Foley reference) wear “soft clothes” for comfort. Are they not still working? I wear either pajamas or leisure wear, but I do not wear the same clothes all day that I slept in. That would be disgusting. (But if you’re on a Skype call – dress it up!)
- Do bathe. I’m not saying you have to bathe twice a day or even wash your hair (that is what Batiste Dry Shampoo is for) but you’ll feel better if you bathe and change clothes at least once a day. And I personally wear makeup every day because who knows who might come to the door? My real parents, the king and queen!!! Plus reporters, to report on my parents finding me at last.
- Do try to see people in person. It may not be possible depending on your state of quarantine but even waving to neighbors or keeping a six foot distance from or Skyping with someone will force you to interact socially with someone, which will lift your spirits. It might also force you to look in a mirror and see your hair and decide that maybe today is the day to wash it.
- Do stock up on foods you enjoy, but also foods that are good for you that you might not enjoy that much but really should eat to stay healthy. As a writer, I’m used to going for long stretches without leaving my place, and also for long stretches eating only quick convenient junk, such as M&Ms and Doritos. Do not do this. Bad things will happen to you. And I’m not talking about down the line. I mean within a week. Get some fruits and vegetables and proteins too. Also, wine is not a food group.
- Do find some fun things to watch as a reward for when you’ve accomplished your daily goal. Your definition of fun probably differs from mine but I for instance recently enjoyed the series “I Am Not Okay With This” on Netflix and also “The Haunting of Hill House” but not of all you may be horror fans. I’m sure you can find your own shows. Why not try some Korean dramas, or The Witcher? True crime documentaries can also be fun (not for the victims of those crimes, of course) because then you can listen to the True Crime Obsessed podcast about those documentaries, which is the best. You’ll find something you love, I’m sure.
- Do find some fun things to read. Bookstores need your support now more than ever, and even your local indie will deliver to you during this time of crisis. Click here to find out more about you can support bookstores now! And while I’m sure you can find your own books, if you need suggestions, I thoroughly enjoyed Rachel Vail’s new middle grade novel about an 8th grader struggling to deal with friendship and family problems (because who hasn’t experienced both, especially now that we’re all cooped up inside with each other?), Bad Best Friend.
- And finally, DO establish a routine. I know it may not sound fun, but when I’m “deep undercover” to finish a book (or sheltering in place) I literally do the same thing every day at the same time, like anyone would if they were in school or working a 9-5 job. I go to sleep, wake up, eat meals, etc all around the same time every day and–even more boringly–basically wear the same style clothes and eat and even watch (Law and Order) the same type things. The routine actually helps give a sense of normalcy and–more importantly–getting up and going to bed at the same time helps keep you from getting sick. I know. GENIUS.
Don’t worry, we will all get through this. And when we do, we will have so much fun!!!
Coming next to this blog: Corona Princess, an update from Princess Mia Thermopolis on what is happening in Genovia during this difficult time. Hint: Grandmere is stress smoking again.