So often when I sit down to write my blog post, I struggle to find a topic to write about. This week I actually had three. Never have I had so many ideas for posts! Well, I have to be honest with you here: one idea was entirely mine, one idea I got from another blog post on the topic, and one my husband (now working from home so he freely wanders into my office to chat) came up with. So, just to be interesting, I think I’m going to tackle them in the opposite order. This week I’ll write the one my husband came up with, next week on the other blog post, and the week after that my original idea.

When this whole virus thing really hit us here in Europe (in early March), I was traveling and finishing up the edits of An Affair of Hearts. A month later I was back home again and dealing with the new lockdown directive. I was more than ready to adapt to this new reality—my husband working from home, taking up my space and my quiet, and not being able to escape anywhere to write since all the cafes are now closed. I thought that I could deal with this. It wouldn’t be much of a problem. Just a slight adaptation of my normal life.

And then I sat down to start my next book.

I stared at the page for about ten minutes, my mind a complete blank. I gave myself a good mental shake and started re-reading my notes. I just needed to put my mind into my story once again, I thought.

Well, it took me a good twenty minutes to actually get there and start working. Are you finding this to be true?

Are you also having trouble focusing? Removing yourself mentally from this real Corona Virus-filled world where headlines constantly bombard you with numbers of affected, dead, lack of ventilators, and overflowing morgues?

I certainly am.

I am supposed to be writing escapist, wonderful romance stories set in beautiful ballrooms filled with sparkling people laughing, dancing and falling in love. Every story needs its happily ever after. I need to write scenes where eyes lock, hands touch, and secret smiles are exchanged. And all around me, people are dying!

How can I do this! Why should I?

Well, I need to for my mental-welling being and that of my readers. Just like after 9-11 when the romance community gathered together to discuss the importance of our work in a time of crisis, it was decided that it is precisely in such times that people need romance. We need that spark of hope in order to forget—if only for a short time—the horrors of real life. Now, more than ever, we need novels—be they romance, mystery, thrillers, scifi, or fantasy. We need that escape.

Yes, it can be really hard for writers to shove aside the news, especially if someone we know has been affected. But it’s also really important that we do.

And it’s not only our readers who get to enjoy that escape. When I write, mentally, I leave this world and live in the world of my novel. I hear my characters’ voices, I watch them interact, my mind becomes that of my point-of-view character. My greatest concern is finding a way to convince my love-interest that I am the one for them, or dealing with the conflict of the moment. There is no such thing as the coronavirus in Regency England. There are no sick people, dead or dying in the ballroom or wandering through moonlit gardens. There is only my story and I am living it.

It used to be that entering my story whenever I sat down to write was as easy as reading a paragraph. Today, it’s a little harder. I need to pause and clear my mind. Five minutes of quiet thinking where I mentally fade away all the noise of the present day and bring into focus the world of my book is what is needed now. Sometimes it will take me five minutes, sometimes ten, but I will get there and I know that once I’m there I’ll be happy. I’ll find love and romance and get that much-needed break.

Personally, I find writing much easier than reading. I enter the world of my story so much more completely when I have to construct it as I go. I become my POV character much more fully than I can someone else’s character that’s already been written. Writing, for me, is a true escape.

What about you, friends? Are you able to write in these chaotic days? If so, what are you doing to aid yourself in moving from the real world into your story world? If you could share, it would be greatly appreciated!