The COVID-19 Writing Dilemma

The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic continues to cause problems around the world, especially in countries like the UK where the government is a deadly mixture of uncaring and incompetent. One small problem it’s created for me is related to my writing. I’m not talking about the fact that not going out means I don’t have a supply of anecdotes for this blog (which is definitely an issue), but rather the way in which COVID-19 is effecting the fictional worlds of the stories I tell.

Before jumping to any conclusions – don’t worry, I haven’t gone insane. I know that the fictional world inside my head is fictional and is not actually effected by goings on in reality. The problem is that I like to write stories in a world which is essentially the same as our own, except for the fact that the characters I’ve created live in it… so, then, when I write a story in the modern day, do I need to have them living through the pandemic? If so, that severely limits the kinds of stories I can tell. Should I then set it pre-pandemic? I could, but, also, it’s difficult to self-consciously write a couple of years in the past – and what happens to the characters afterwards? The pandemic will still happen. If I have a plan for a character’s life over several years, I now need to incorporate the fact that they lived through the COVID-19 pandemic, which means that certain events may need to be changed. Also, I could try writing in a post-pandemic world, but I don’t know how long it will last – the characters might be significantly older by then!

It doesn’t stop me from writing. In fact, I’ve written a lot more since the pandemic began than I had before, it’s just a problem that’s bubbling at the back of my mind and which irks me if I let it. I wonder how many other writers are trying to manage the effect of COVID-19 on their worlds?

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