For a lot of us, lockdown was a massive shift. No more going into the office. Juggling meetings with childcare and home-schooling, being apart from friends and family… learning how to bake banana bread, or downloading Zoom for a virtual pub quiz.
I was lucky in that my job was already pretty ‘agile’. Being a writer, I obviously spend a lot of time alone on my sofa, frantically tapping away at my keyboard and buried in a Word document. And my day job (working in IT in the energy industry) already allowed me to work from home a few days a week, pre-pandemic.
But even so: it took some time to get used to this new normal. I made banana bread, obviously. I fixed the thermostat when it broke! I made my own face masks. But, I also cancelled a girls’ holiday to Vienna, and it was four months before I was able to go back over the border into Wales, to see my family. Working from home, while I was used to it, was its own kind of challenge: there was no more breaking up the week with a day at the office, or getting out of the flat during a weekend of editing to my favourite café.
I’m someone who becomes utterly useless without routine, or structure in my day. I love feeling productive, but I’m also very careful to not burn out – both huge reasons I thrive on having routine. Which, honestly, was pretty hard to come by in lockdown. My commute home went from a drive and singing along to Hadestown to putting my laptop in a tote bag and shoving it under the dining table, out of sight until the next day… and moving three feet across the room to my sofa, and my personal laptop, to try to get stuck into some writing.
When lockdown started, I decided I wouldn’t be too hard on myself if I didn’t spend the time in any kind of ‘useful’ pursuit… namely, working on books. I’d been trying to work on a new book since January, making barely any progress, and my motivation seemed to have vanished completely through the start of 2020.
That is – until I was shut up in my flat for weeks on end, and had a deadline for some edits. Just like I need routine, I need deadlines, too. And once that particular piece of work was out of the way, I realised exactly what my next project was going to be.
‘Lockdown on London Lane’ started out as a vague idea, of a collection of short stories following twenty-somethings on lockdown in the same building, all intertwined – a little like Love Actually. It’d be something to do for fun, just to try to get through everything that was going on. Plus, I thought, turning it into a ‘project’ where I would post one short story every week on Wattpad (where I originally started my writing career ten years ago) would give me some kind of deadlines, and help with my mental health during all this.
All of which definitely helped me see it through to the end, and the motivation carried on into other writing projects in the last few weeks… and definitely helped keep the cabin fever at bay over the past four months! I thrived on the sense of community I found on Wattpad, too – as an extrovert, the connection to readers I got to enjoy every week was a huge help.
This week, of course, I’m trying to launch my second movie, The Kissing Booth 2, in the middle of a pandemic. There is no glitzy premiere at Netflix’s offices in LA, or even a viewing party in my flat I can invite all my friends to. But even without all of that, I’m looking forward to celebrating online – which is where I’ve always found my audience, and my community. And honestly? I’ve never been so grateful for that.
The Kissing Booth 2: Going The Distance, by Beth Reekles, is available to buy in paperback now - https://bit.ly/2ZUWcVQ