Thursday, April 2, 2020

Quarantine Writing Rules

by Lynn H. Blackburn @LynnHBlackburn

How’s everybody doing?

If you’re rocking this quarantine life, then I want you to know that I’m happy for you. I really am.

But in case you aren’t, can I offer a few words of encouragement today?

These are my personal Rules to Quarantine, that I just made up because let’s face it, none of us have ever done this before and we have no idea what we’re doing. But I like rules. They make me feel like I have control, when, obviously, I don’t. Maybe you can relate? 

Rule #1 - Do NOT, under any circumstances, compare yourself to your neighbor, sibling, coworker, or fellow author. 
No one, absolutely no one, is experiencing life exactly the way you are right now. No one has the exact same mix of responsibilities, opportunities, obligations, or disappointments that you have, so don’t fall into the trap of thinking that you’re doing this wrong.

You may be figuring out e-learning with your kids, or trying to figure out how to communicate with a parent in assisted living. You may be working more hours than you’ve ever worked in your life, or you may have been laid off and are wondering how to pay the bills. Very few of us are doing life exactly the way we were a month ago and there’s no quarantine checklist to let us know how to do this.

FUN FACT: NO ONE KNOWS WHAT THEY ARE DOING. Not really. Even the ones who act like they do, don’t. We are all winging it. Do your best and let the rest of it go. Some days your best might be weeding the garden or painting a bedroom or cleaning out closet. Some days your best might be binge-watching Netflix. Either way, don’t compare your quarantine approach to the way anybody else does it. Pray and ask God to show you how He wants you to respond and trust that He will give you the grace to do it, and not worry about what everyone else is prioritizing. 

Rule #2 - Do NOT, under any circumstances, expect to accomplish more than you normally do during the days and weeks ahead. 
But Lynn, you say, I’m home all the time now. I *should* be able to finish this manuscript by the time this is all over. Look, I know you’ve seen the meme about how Shakespeare wrote King Lear and Newton came up with the theory of gravity while they were quarantined, but that does not mean you have to. 

I am the worst at this. I tend to value myself and determine my worth by how much I accomplish, but now is not the time. This is not necessarily an opportunity for me to crush my goals. This may be an opportunity for me to fill my creative well to the brim so when the time comes, I can pour it out into whatever task God sets before me.

FUN FACT: GOD DOES NOT CARE ABOUT YOUR PRODUCTIVITY—HE CARES ABOUT YOUR HEART. Is it possible that God will give you the motivation and desire to create during this time? Absolutely. And if you’re creating with Him, then by all means, create! But it’s also possible that what God wants out of this time is for His people to remember what it looks like to find total satisfaction in Him and Him alone. Imagine the art and creativity that would come from people who, when this is over, have no greater desire than to please God!

Rule #3 - Do NOT, under any circumstances, forget that your art matters. 
Sometimes, it’s easy for me to fall into the trap of thinking that what I do doesn’t really matter. I love books and words and I love to read and write, but in the grand scheme of things, is it really important? I know it’s important to me, but sometimes I wonder if it’s making a difference. If this time teaches us nothing else, we should never, ever wonder about that again. 

For myself, I’m finding unabashed delight in the art that’s being tossed around like confetti. Patrick Stewart is reading sonnets. Andrew Lloyd Webber is playing the piano. Garth Brooks and Trisha Yearwood are having concerts. Michael W. Smith is leading worship. Mo Willems is giving art classes. Jimmy Fallon is doing The Tonight Show from his house with graphics drawn by his darling daughters. There’s nothing fancy about any of it. It’s simple. It’s lovely. It’s creative. It’s artists sharing their art with the world, and guess what? We’re eating it up. We can’t get enough. Why? Because art matters. It has always mattered, but now when so much has been canceled, we’ve discovered it all over again. 

FUN FACT: WE DON’T NEED STADIUMS OR CROWDS TO CREATE. Don’t ever let the size of your audience determine whether or not you’re going to create what God has called you to create. Don’t ever think that the hard work you’re putting in today won’t pay off in the long run. If you’re an artist, the world needs you and the unique art that only you can bring to life. Don’t forget that. 

I rarely close these posts with a prayer, but it seems appropriate for this time. I’m borrowing this one from the Apostle Paul….

For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.

Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.


Lynn H. Blackburn loves writing suspense because her childhood fantasy was to become a spy—but her grown-up reality is that she's a huge chicken and would have been caught on her first mission. She prefers to live vicariously through her characters and loves putting them into all kinds of terrifying situations—while she's sitting at home safe and sound in her pajamas! 

Her Dive Team Investigations series kicked off in 2018 with Beneath the Surface and In Too Deep (A SIBA Okra pick and Selah Award Finalist). The 3rd book in the series, One Final Breath, releases in September 2019. She is also the author of Hidden Legacyand Covert Justice,which won the 2016 Carol Award for Short Novel and the 2016 Selah Award for Mystery and Suspense. Lynn lives in South Carolina with her true love and their three children. You can follow her real life happily ever after at and on FacebookTwitterPinterest, and Instagram.


  1. Lynn, thanks so much for this. I especially appreciate you saying, "Don’t ever let the size of your audience determine whether or not you’re going to create what God has called you to create."

  2. Thank you for the very kind advice. It's so easy to compare ourselves to others we think are doing life better.

  3. Such beautiful wisdom. Believers can be lights in this darkness, just by extending love (and leaving judgment behind.) God will use this for his glory in one way or the other. If we remain sensitive to His presence and guidance, we can be a part of that. Thanks so much for this article. Very encouraging.

  4. Thank you, thank you, thank you. These are words everyone should read. :-)

  5. I love this! Thanks so much for sharing your powerful insights.

  6. Perfect! I'm sending this to several friends who need to hear what you've written.

  7. Tweeting this because I need to read it again. Thank you.

  8. Your comments were so helpful! Today I pushed back from writing and spent the day working a puzzle with my husband. It was relaxing, and I didn't let myself feel guilty.

  9. Thank you for wise words. The comparison game is a dangerous one. I appreciate your reminder.

  10. It's so tempting to compare ourselves to others. Thanks for some very wise and helpful advice how to avoid that!