A Writer’s Guide to Surviving Social Distancing & Quarantine



No one has to tell me twice to stay home. I work from there as a writer. My commute is from the bedroom to my office. (No. I don’t work in my PJs. Puleeze.)

Don’t mingle? I love people, but I’m a bit of an introvert. I’m perfectly happy entertaining myself in my head. No worries. But in order to flatten the curve of the #CoronaVirus and allow health professionals to get this pandemic under control for the hospital beds and respirators they have, I am determined to do my part, happily. I’m also the primary caregiver to my parents who are in their 90s. They’re in good health, but their age puts them at a disadvantage.

I’m limiting my errands, appointments and socializing for the next few months and am hoping we, as a country, can get this pandemic under control. I’ve cancelled my European trip in July and will target my travel for 2021-2022 when things might be better.

I thought I would share what I am doing during my self-imposed lock down and get a conversation going. Let’s share what we’re up to and make this quarantine/social distancing survivable.

ALWAYS allow time for your daily quota but think outside the box for how to spend your time. This shouldn’t be same-old-same-old time. Treat yourself & bolster your spirit. The last time I had to spend time sequestered at home, I wrote my debut book after I had surgery. Perhaps this inconvenience could be a renaissance of sorts, a rebirth like a Phoenix rising from the ashes.

Stay positive & fuel your creativity.

Ideas for Writers to survive the #CoronaVirus #Pandemic:

1.) Develop your cooking skills. Treat yourself well by making an effort, even if it’s for a party of one. I have fun posting recipes with pics on social media, like Twitter and Instagram. If you’re feeling generous, try supporting your local restaurants who are suffering during this shut down. They may only be making money on deliveries. Order online with delivery & make sure to wipe down the cartons/containers & throw away the bags. Plastic & cardboard surfaces can carry the virus for 24 to 72 hours–and tip your driver.

2.) Research cooking homemade dog food & treats. My sister and I have challenged each other, from our respective homes, of course. We are cooking our own nutritious dog food with healthy ingredients (meats, vegetables and fruit) with vitamin & probiotic supplements. I recently did the math and I’m saving $20/bag off my old kibble brand. I cook once or twice a month and freeze some to have inventory. It’s fun to be creative for them. My oldest dog is ten and she’s gobbling up her food like she has never done before. I love seeing the joy of my three rescue dogs at meal times and their appreciation shows.

3.) Organize your life. What needs doing? What have you put off? For me, it’s tackling a storage room & my office. I also cleaned out my freezer & made use of what I could to make dog food. These jobs were long overdue. Writing deadlines are pushed to the top of the list normally, but this time of self-reflection has helped me get after projects that will make me feel better in the long run.

4.) Spend time outdoors. It’s spring. Get fresh air by working in a garden, cleaning up, applying lawn treatments. I maintain my home & yard on my own. It’s rewarding, invigorating & a reminder of nature’s renewal. This time of year, it is cleaning up leaves and sprucing up the garden to make way for the new growth. My tangerine tree is blooming and my tulips and bulbs are flowering.

5.) Do an inventory of the favorite things in your home & post pics of them on social media. I saw this on social media and participated. I thought it was a great idea for the home bound. Share a story of why something means the world to you. Tell a story and invite your followers to share their prized possessions. Very touching and interesting.

6.) Post a video of your quarantine activities online if you’re tech savvy. Or read excerpts of your books on video to share with readers. Do you feel comfortable with recording writing craft tutorials? With all the late night shows getting creative on Youtube, I thought–why not share our work with other quarantiners or read an age appropriate book to children? What the hell. I can’t sing

7.) Catch up on research for your next book & dig into a new plot. Daily writing time is important. That should come first, but working on a new project can be invigorating.

8.) Reach out to friends & family on FaceTime or texting or calling. Reassure your loved ones & stay more connected with the people you value most. Not including family, ask yourself–who makes the list of my top 10 contacts? I call this – taking an inventory of the heart.

9.) Focus on your pets. Things have changed in their world too. They see you home more and want your time. Take them on longer walks. It’s good exercise for you. Buy new toys for them, something you can enjoy with them.

10.) Catch up on your reading. Authors should be avid readers. You’ll learn as you enjoy.

11.) Write a letter to someone special. We’re writers, after all. Or keep a daily journal to get in touch with the emotions you might be feeling.

12.) Go on an online shopping spree. Or send a special gift to someone you love.

13.) Plan a vacation for late 2021 or 2022. Save for it. Take your time researching it & make the trip special.

14.) With sports being cancelled across our country, check out what others are doing on TikTok to invent a sport. Here is a LINK. Roomba Curling, window tennis, turtle tic tac toe, Sock Pacman, & ping pong trick shots set up in your home with obstacles.

15.) Take a vitual tour of these great sites at this LINK. Over 30 sites. Animal cameras, national parks, touring famous places across the world, try a virtual trip on Mars.

I count my lucky stars for everything good in my life, despite what’s going on across the globe. I hear & read about horror all over the world and things happening close to home. People are hurting and they don’t have many options if our economy shuts down to a crawl. Be kind to one another and help where you can. You will not regret it.

What are you doing to keep your sanity during this challenging time?


33 thoughts on “A Writer’s Guide to Surviving Social Distancing & Quarantine

  1. Being an introverted writer in a rural community, I’ve seen very few disruptions to my “normal” lifestyle. I did cancel a hair appointment, and my late April photo trip to Croatia has been postponed until 2011. Did not go visit my 94-year-old mother in LA.
    Today, we’re expecting up to 10 inches of snow and high winds, so staying home is easy.
    What I’m finding is how easy it is to be distracted (although this WIP has been giving me trouble from the get-go, so maybe I need to buckle down, not blame it on the virus.)
    Your suggestions to reach out to others via technology is a good reminder. Also, try to support local small businesses. I’m posting more humor on Facebook (but also trying to avoid it as much as possible because the all the crazy people out there just adds to my stress).

    • I cancelled my hair appt too. Pushing it off for 8 weeks will turn me into Sasquatch, but I’m more afraid of getting exposed to this virus & not showing symptoms for 2+ weeks. Ugh.

      I hear Croatia is beautiful. You’ll get there.

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Terry.

  2. I stay at home on the regular too, but I’m more conscious of how my choices impact my elderly parents who live with us. So I get it completely.
    My dog is enjoying my efforts at making his food, although I have yet to introduce vegetables. That was my goal for today. According to everything I’ve read, fruit and veggies should be either finely cut or run through the blender once to minimize the chance of choking.

    Humor is so important…in our daily lives to combat all the fear and danger, and online as Terry has pointed out above me.

    I think we’re all going to learn a lot about ourselves from this pandemic, and not only how often we touch our faces.

    • Another dog food chef. The prep is the longest part. My first batches had too many veggies. I’m experimenting with fewer ingredients & dividing recipes into 3 camps – beef, turkey & fish. My larger dogs chew small to medium-sized chunks but my little one gets his cut small. They all love different textures. Don’t forget organ meats in any recipe. I also use a sprinkle on supplement that the dogs eat without hesitation. POOCHIE Powder is a plant-based supplement by Snoutley on Amazon.

      I agree that we all are going to learn a lot about ourselves & who we can count on. Humor, definitely. Thanks, Carolyn.

    • Forgot to mention these spices that I add.

      A small amount of ginger and turmeric have a diversity of beneficial digestive, anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer properties. I also add a little cinnamon in my treats & food which can have benefits for blood pressure.

    • I saw a cute YouTube video where a guy shares his recipe for MUTTLOAF. He makes a hamburger based blend of ground beef, rice & veggies, rolls it into a palm-sized ball & cooks them in a muffin tin. Each muffin of Muttloaf can be crumbled into a bowl. One muffin would be a good portion for a small dog. Larger dogs might eat 2-3 of them per meal. This is a fast method for cooking meals for the week.

      (Spray coconut oil or olive oil into the muffin tin so they don’t stick.)

  3. Love your list, Jordan. Some stuff I hadn’t considered. (Actually, some stuff I didn’t want to consider…like cleaning out the house.) I’ve been telling my husband we need to do that-I’d hate to wake up dead and find that my children are now stuck with the odious task of going through our stuff. So maybe now’s the time.

    I also am doing fine with “social distancing”…it’s actually the way I live WITHOUT a virus rampaging around the world. But, being told by the government I must do it has had a curious effect on me in two ways. Just like Eve’s apple, having it laid down as law makes me want to poke the bear. The other effect is a bit less funny.

    I find I now WANT to be around people. *GASP* (I guess it’s a little funny.)

    I was in the grocery store the other day-one of my least fave places to be-and, looking around at the other shoppers, I realized they weren’t strangers any more. They were neighbors. I didn’t know their names, but I knew we shared a common purpose-to survive, to get through this, to keep ourselves and our families well. This microscopic enemy has pushed us together, to stand shoulder-to-shoulder in battle.

    We will get through this. It may be painful, we will mourn, but we will get through this. Especially since we have folks like you sharing these super ideas. Even the cleaning part. 🙂

    • Ugh. I’m avoiding grocery stores. Don’t want to see the hoarders. I use a great grocery delivery service provided through my grocer, HEB. They have a great website & the personal shoppers (who work for $4.95 total) are amazing. They call to work with you on replacements if supplies are out. It’s like having Radar O’Reilly from Mash working for you. The driver delivery is a flat $5.00 with no tipping. I want to support this business & these employees. They scramble for my groceries as if they’re shopping for their mothers. I use this service for my parents also.

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Deb. Hang in there & try FaceTime or Skype for reaching out to people’s faces.

  4. Great ideas and encouragement, Jordan. When I die, I want to come back as one of your dogs!

    Social distancing was practically invented here in Montana so we’re already used to that and isolation for long periods of time.

    I always plant a vegetable garden but will expand it a lot this year. A friend is going to buy chicks to raise for eggs.

    How about this for a smart pivot by a business? A friend in Ontario says the distillery in her town has switched from making gin to making hand sanitizer!

    • I heard about the shift to hand sanitizer production. Very creative & considerate. Did I hear they aren’t charging for it? Some very kind, generous & innovative people out there. They give me hope. Thanks Debbie.

  5. On the dog food, check out vet and animal columnist Michael W. Fox’s recipe. He’s all about natural foods for pets, and his recipes are a good baseline for starters. There are also cat food recipes.


    I’m retired and an introvert so this isn’t exactly a massive inconvenience or a change for me. I have more than enough chores with the house and five acres so I’m not hurting for things to do although books and YouTube have been sounding more fun right now.

    A good project to suggest. I inherited the family homeplace and a collection of pictures that date back from right after the Civil War up into my early adulthood. I decided I needed to digitalize everything so the siblings and their kids would have a copy. My mom, my dad’s sister, and another aunt went through the pictures before their deaths, and they were able to identify everyone. I digitalized the pictures and one version had a number on each person with a key below that identifies them. They were also able to help me with family trees on both sides as well as medical issues dating back a hundred years. I gave the siblings and their adult kids CDs with all the digital pics and genealogyy stuff to do with as they will.

    There are services who do mass digitalization so, if your scanner can’t do digital pics, you can spend your extra time right now figuring out which family pics are worth conversion.

    • Great ideas, Marilynn. Your digitizing photos project is perfect. And getting relatives to ID the people (while they still are around) is a great project idea. Thank you.

      Your idea centered on family reminded me of a project one of my aunts did years ago where she traced the family tree. She started online through genealogy sites but even visited cemeteries to document where the graves are. She shared her work & have my mom a real gift for her to explore.

      Thanks for the vet link. A great resource.

  6. What a great list. Sounds like you’re making the most of these crazy times. Yes, hopefully, it will end soon.
    For me, I haven’t seen a personal impact so far. I’m still going to the day job. Things are quieter and traffic is light. I had to cancel a trip to Graceland. 🙁 But hopefully will reschedule later in the year.
    I’m worried about the economy and people whose livelihood is threatened by the closings.
    If I do end up quarantined, I hope to accomplish a great deal, mainly writing and cleaning/organizing.
    In the meantime, I am taking it one day at a time, following safety precautions, supporting local business and tipping, and praying!

  7. I felt a little strange calling my doctor–one of my doctors; I have many–to tell his appointments person I was canceling my appointments until the summer because I didn’t want to come to the office because I might get sick.

    We are very aware and cautious during this time because my great-grandfather died during the time of the 1918 influenza epidemic. He went out in the rain to round up horses.

    Stay well and healthy.

  8. With all the cancellations of meetings, classes, and appointments, I was enjoying the idea of hunkering down with my WIP and getting some serious work done. Then I read your great list of things to do, and I’m holding you personally responsible if I don’t finish the second draft this week. ?

    On a more serious note, our church has canceled regular services. Most of the members of our small group are seniors, so they’re stuck at home. Several of them are alone. Since I own the email distribution for the group, I started a “Virtual Holding Hands” loop so we can stay in touch and uplift each other. And, of course, we can respond to needs within the group.

    Thanks for the post. I have to run — I’m off to take a virtual tour of Mars.

    • I was brainstorming today with my physical therapist sister who works with geriatrics. After hearing that some hospitals are constructing their versions of N95 masks. I wondered if I could help work at something like this to help. She said local hospitals probably wouldn’t use donations like this but I worry for you & other medical professionals on the front line.

      Staying home might be the only thing I can do for now but I’m open to ideas. Thanks, Cynthia. Hang in there & stay healthy.

  9. 1) “…try supporting your local restaurants who are suffering during this shut down” What? They’re shut. No restaurants, bars, cafés. No cooked food home deliveries. Only food stores, including bakeries, and pharmacies are open. If restaurants on your planet are still shipping food to go then your planet is in denial. Such practices put cooks and delivery personnel and the person accepting delivery at risk of contracting disease. Absolute nonsense, and dangerous, advice.
    4) “Get fresh air by working in a garden, cleaning up, applying lawn treatments. I maintain my home & yard on my own. It’s rewarding, invigorating & a reminder of nature’s renewal. This time of year, it is cleaning up leaves and sprucing up the garden to make way for the new growth.” Lucky you. How many people, in total, and as a percentage of the population, do you think have their own garden? Answer will be revealing, and likely bely an ignorance of how ordinary people live.
    Stay in, stay safe, develop a better sense of humour.

    • Someone got up on the wrong side of the bed.

      Many people need their work income. My local restaurants only income source is deliveries & our city has approved this to mitigate the loss of business. This is for restaurants & grocery deliveries.

      Deliveries are left at the door. No contact on the delivery side. The resident cleans the packages & tosses the bags. (Germs last up to 72 hrs or more on plastics & cardboard.) It’s up to the restaurant to keep their end sanitary, but with a smaller work force & a “closed to the public” restaurant, they have better control.

      I have a garden that I worked hard to have & maintain. I refuse to apologize for that. It gives me joy. But whether you have your own property, getting fresh air is free. Anyone can partake in fresh air. Even you. Bill. No charge.

      Dear Bill. I sincerely hope you stay well.

  10. Great post. I’m working my real job from home but otherwise I’m going stir crazy already. I couldn’t get into reading a book until I ordered a paperback from Amazon that was just right: an old Louis L’Amour book. They’re short, fun, and take me away to a COMPLETELY different time and place. I can’t deal with stuff too close to our current reality. It’s been great fun, though, so I ordered even more.

    • Omg, I LOVE Louis L’Amour books. As a kid, I grew up reading them. They planted the seed to become a writer. I’m completely with you on Westerns. My mom is a fan of Zane Grey too. Thanks, Philip.

  11. Interesting news, people. HEB grocery IS HIRING. They need more hands to help in their delivery service & inventory mgmt. When many other places are closing their operating hours in this uncertain time, it’s good to hear a large regional employer is expanding.

    Other local restaurants are finding creative ways to supplement their lost revenue. Like HEB, they’re reinventing themselves because they have to. They need to keep a framework in motion & keep treading water.

    If we don’t help these businesses during this time, some may never come back from the brink. Supporting workers & many service providers could lose their jobs permanently in a domino effect.

    We all need to pitch in where we can & try to stay positive until we know more but I found my grocery store’s hiring to be hopeful news. I wanted to share it.

    • Hi Jordan, I’m a bit late to the party with commenting as life has been (obviously) crazy.
      But I just wanted to say: you are so right about supporting your local restaurants, cafes, etc.
      I’m a chef (in Australia) and all businesses are switching to delivery only options in a bid to stay afloat while this pandemic unfolds. Hospitality workers make up a huge part of the workforce and the bulk of us are casual – meaning no sick or vacation pay. In addition to that, wages are generally low in this industry. And jobs are dissolving overnight.
      If communities don’t opt to support delivered/take away food, you are going to end up with a huge cohort of desperate people, struggling to just survive. That is a situation that only leads to yet more chaos.
      Food safety hygiene practices across the board have also become extra stringent.
      Additionally, due to job related training, these are likely far more comphrensive and better adhered to, than what would be in practice at supermarkets.
      On a positive note – our largest supermarket chains are also in the process of hiring 5000 new staff to restock panic-stripped shelves.
      Everyone needs to exercise caution but there are so many layers to this crisis. Thank you for highlighting some of the ways people can support their local community.
      We may need to remain isolated but we’re all in this together. ?

      • Thanks for weighing in, J. I heard a restaurant owner talk about their layoffs & closed doors. They emphasized that the shift to deliveries does NOT keep the restaurant afloat at full steam, but it’s FOR THE EMPLOYEES to have money
        Many of these restaurants will NOT survive a prolonged downturn. Unemployment will lead to a depression. Plus many other employers who are laying off, they could leave people without health insurance eventually. This is an example of how it could be beneficial to have a public offer of an improved & useable health insurance that is attached to an individual, rather than a company offered benefit.

        We can learn a lot from this crisis but I’m seeing a community coming together at the local level. It’s scary but for me, it’s not time to panic. If I can support local businesses, I choose to do that because I can. We all need to find a way to help where we can. Hang in there, J.

  12. As someone who normally works from home, I didn’t think my world had changed all that much…until I went to the grocery store. Wow! So now, I’m using my slow cooker to cook bigger meals that I can freeze portions of. If I get sick, my husband would starve to death. LOL We also have underlying medical conditions that put us at greater risk, so I’m making hand sanitizer and a sanitizing cleanser for surfaces today. It won’t be the funnest day ever, but it’s important.

    If anyone would like the recipes…

    Homemade hand sanitizer…

    3/4 C. Rubbing Alchohol
    1/4 C. Aloe Vera gel (the type you use for sunburns)
    10 t. essential oil or you can substitute with lemon juice

    Mix with spoon until blended, then whisk into a gel. Pour ingredients into empty bottle labeled “hand sanitizer.”

    Sanitizer cleanser for surfaces…

    1C water to 1-2 t. bleach
    Before using on cloth, try a test patch out of sight.

    Love and peace to all. Stay safe. ?

    • Thanks for these “how to” ingredients. We can’t get isopropyl alcohol but it’s on my list if the rationing loosens up.

      Stay healthy, dear friend. My parents are scared & I worry for them too. I want us to be together so I can cook & clean for them but they are safer at their independent living facility. They have a restaurant there with food deliveries to their rooms but if one person gets infected, it could turn into a disaster like what happened in Washington.

      I fear for our healthcare providers. My sister cares for the elderly & her sanitation processes to keep healthy (& not put her family at risk) is intense.

      Take care, Sue.

    • I’m having trouble locating some of these components but I read that coconut oil can be used in place of the aloe vera gel.

      And the isopropyl alcohol needs to be 91% strength.

      I also read that vinegar makes an effective disinfectant. Add an essential oil to eliminate the Vinegar smell.

      • The isopropyl alcohol needs to be at least 70%, according to CDC guidelines. Do they even make 90%? Coconut oil sounds really soothing. I bet it would make a great substitute.

        Vinegar is an excellent disinfectant.

        Sending prayers for your parents. It can’t be easy being away from them during this difficult time. Stay safe, my friend. xoxo

        • Humor & maintaining a positive mindset goes a long way in caring for my family & my community but it’s definitely a challenge. Thanks, Sue.

Comments are closed.