My new reality: Life as a travel writer during COVID-19

For nearly two months, COVID-19 has kept us indoors, social distancing and washing our hands vigorously. There is an intense amount of fear, anxiety and uncertainty circulating as some people over-react (ex. hoarding toilet paper) and others under-react (ex. still gathering in large groups).

For the foreseeable future, travel is out of the question—and the industry itself is crumbling.

The world is a different place. News machines pump out horrifying stories 24/7. We’re trapped in our local communities, only connected by Wi-Fi. Millions of people are suffering and dying. The effects of the novel coronavirus have been compared to world wars.

I feel extremely privileged to live in a safe apartment in Canada. I’m also one of the lucky few who still has a full-time job and can work from home.

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My life has changed. Evenings and weekends that used to be filled with happy hour drinks, coffee dates with friends, hiking new trails, country dancing with the boyfriend, frequent visits to my mom and the joyous decision to stay inside with Netflix are now empty and bleak—an unsettling reality for a serial planner who strives to be busy.

Now, the highlight of my day is a video chat with friends or family, a home workout on YouTube with my roommate or snuggling up with a glass of wine and a good book. Alone.

There’s one part of my identity I’m not sure even fits anymore.

Am I still a travel writer if I can’t travel?

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It’s difficult to stay home and be a responsible, informed citizen without giving in to fear, anxiety and depression. I’m trying to adjust the best I can, while working to create the future I want for myself.

A few days ago, I wrote out a list of my long-term goals. For each lofty, far-flung goal, I listed “short- to medium-term actions I can take now to make this happen.”

My first goal: publish Backbone. The steps I can take now: edit my manuscript and keep submitting my book proposal to agents/editors. Three times a week, I spend 30 minutes editing. Rather than looking at the entire, massive project, I chop it up. I’ve edited the first 14 chapters in two weeks.

My second goal: get published in larger magazines and newspapers. The steps I can take now: make a pitching document to centralize ideas and track pitches. In two days, I’ve sent five pitches to various publications. I’ve received one rejection and one “maybe.”

For me, creating this list has been extremely motivating. It gives me something to focus on and work towards when our current reality seems too daunting.

I posted my goals on the wall of my home office. When I’m done work and facing an empty, lonely evening, having achievable actions has helped me stay out of bed, inch away from drowning myself in mindless TV and instead, feel accomplished as I improve myself.

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Some of my other goals include (far-future) travel planning, yoga, meditation, reading, eating healthy and not drinking every night. I also bought myself an espresso machine, because a) it was highly rated by a fellow writer, b) I’ve always wanted one and c) I really miss working from cafes.

We’ll get through this, travellers. We’re all in it together.

Until we can meet again…

 

How are you surviving being grounded as a traveller?

I want to know! Comment below.

6 comments

  1. Yeah, the new normal is not really normal is it? I’m sitting things out in Bali. Luckily so far, there are not many cases, only a few deaths. Some people are very cavalier about it, though, and aren’t even wearing masks in food stores. I sit home most days, luckily, I’ve got rice terraces on two sides, jungle on one. I’m supposing you’re feeling pretty sorry for me about now? I’m supposed to be writing a memoir, but somehow got sidetracked into writing poems. I’m wondering if you can you tell me a site that informs about writing queries to agents? Good luck with all your stuff.

  2. Great article. I am so pleased you have been able to motivate yourself so well. And I love the coffee machine part!!


  3. How are you surviving being grounded as a traveller?”

    Almost the same way as you are. 🙂
    I am also saving as much money as I reasonably can, so I will have lots of options for when I finally get to travel again. And, it is also nice to just have some savings so I can buy something nice now and again to make lockdown a bit more comfortable.

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