Getting Off of The Struggle Bus

By Ronda Simmons

The pandemic has passed the six-month mark, and I’ve been riding the struggle bus.

Photo by Lucia Lua Ramirez on Unsplash
Isn’t that special?

Michael Christensen defines the struggle bus as “an imaginary bus representing a state of perpetual struggles or difficulties. A metaphor that relates physically riding a bus with going through hardships. Used with the same terminology of riding an actual bus: “on the struggle bus” or “riding the struggle bus.”

The ride isn’t always smooth on the struggle bus, but I’ve gotten pretty darned comfortable on my seat by the window, watching the world go by. I know that I should pull that red cord to let the driver know that I want to exit, but then I realize, in this bizarre nightmare, that I AM the driver. And the driver doesn’t want to.

What do we do when we just can’t even?

First, take a deep breath. It’s okay. Sunny Fitzgerald wrote an article in the Washington Post entitled “Don’t feel like ‘getting things done’? It’s okay not to be productive during a pandemic.”

Don’t beat yourself up that all of the people are getting more done than you are. They have lost weight. Their skincare routine is perfected. And can write grammatically correct sentences.

Let me share with you a couple of things that are working for me. Maybe they’ll work for you, too.

  • I made a list of what I want to get done every day, both in my writing and self-care. Some of the items on my list are to walk my dogs, declutter something in my house for 10 minutes, spend time in prayer/meditation. None of these things have anything to do with my writing, but it gives me a boost to see a couple of things crossed off my list, and I might just have the momentum to write.
  • I took a good hard look at what I was writing. I write mysteries. When stuck on a plot point, my go-to move was to kill off the main character, usually in the most bizarre way I can imagine. It just doesn’t feel right to write so darkly with the world’s state these days, so I have picked up a new genre. I’ve started a romance-comedy. (Anyone who has ever read my previous works can stop laughing, it’s true.) No one will die in this book, I think, which is a first for me. But they might. We’ll have to see.
  • I don’t have daily word count goals. They put me into an immediate brain lock. Instead, I set a timer for half an hour, and I sit in my chair with my hands on the keyboard, looking at the blank screen. If I don’t get anything written, that’s okay. But I have to stay there. Eventually, I get bored and start writing. Sometimes it’s absolute crap, but once in a while, I’ll write a sentence that just might make it into the final draft.

Every day I seek out writing advice from a variety of sources. Just do the Google, and you can find a wealth of great information. For example, for September, I’ve been enjoying the 2020 Colorado Writers Collaborative Conference. https://www.northerncoloradowriters.com/event-3963808 

  • Attending on-line Zoom events with other writers, such as the NCW monthly members coffee and “seeing” some familiar faces, has considerably improved my mood. Take a look at the NCW calendar https://www.northerncoloradowriters.com/Calendar and consider joining me.

The struggle is real, my friends, and so is the struggle bus, but we don’t have to ride it forever. For more, check out these links:

Five Things to Do When You’re Riding the Struggle Bus

Productivity During a Pandemic

The Productivity Pitfalls of Working from Home in The Age of COVID-19

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