Writing Science Fiction During & After the Pandemic

Like many writers I am in contact with other writers and of course attend panels of science fiction writers – this year mainly on zoom. One pattern is emerging for all writers from the famous accomplished ones to those who are only starting out on their writerly journey. This year has seen many, if not all, hit the a creativity block.

That block happened at any time from late spring to autumn, and from what I can make out depended where in the creativity cycle those writers were. If they were in what I call the early editing stages of a major work, their block happened later. If they were looking for something new to write, it tended to happen earlier. It’s as though the shock of what the pandemic meant in terms of changes of our lives had to sink in before our creativity was switched off.

This pandemic shock and frustration of not being write like we used to has had an impact on our confidence and interrupted the our development as writers. Or has it?

Yes, the confidence has taken a downturn. But our development?

A lot of people have had to adjust to a different way of life, some more than others. Our subconsciousnesses need time to absorb and react to the new reality and experience. This means the stories that were being worked up there need a reset to take into account the new experiences. And that means delay in them crossing the barrier between the subconscious to drop fully fledged into our thought-streams.

This will affect science fiction writers more than many other genre writers because they have the extra layer of creativity to deal with in their world-building.

The impact of the pandemic on our imagined universes will in the near future include more societal defence mechanisms. Quicker automated development of vaccines, legal requirements of immunisation and greater integration of medical services is just the start. It will extend to other areas like climate change – cleaning up the air to reduce current pollution levels and preventing more pollution entering it, which has been shown to be better for our health. This will (there is no doubt about it) have consequences on the global climate, though I am far from sure exactly what. It is easy to assume that a reduction in pollutants would mean sliding back the worldwide climate to what it was. But what if there are mechanisms that prevent us from going back to a cleaner world the way we came – a kind of hysteresis effect?

And this is only the start of the new big questions that need answering. But these answers take time to be developed into fully rounded artistic forms. Hence the hiatus in creativity. But when the creativity dam bursts into the consciousness of many writers, expect a veering in a new direction for science fiction stories.

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