I attended my Sisters in Crime chapter meeting last weekend and it was the salve I didn’t know I needed. Attendees were all mindful of the perils of social interaction. Everyone kept a respectful distance from one another. Hand sanitizer flowed. But so did the smiles. I think we all had in the back of our minds that we may not see each other in person again for a while.
Note that I say “in person.” Just because writers tend to skew introvert doesn’t mean we always want or like to be alone. Thanks to the Internet, we can still participate in our communities, whether local, regional, or global. In the current climate of “social distancing,” keeping in touch is more important than ever.
I’m not a psychologist but I do know that isolation isn’t healthy. We’re mammals, and most mammals are pack animals. We need each other. I’ve learned a few tricks in maintaining personal connections from a distance, thanks to a day job that’s 24/7/365.
First, of course, there’s social networks. Twitter, Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram, etc. The danger of relying solely on these is the risk of feeding fear and anxiety so I tread lightly here. I’m a big fan of “writer ” which is staying in touch with and reading posts by writers & readers while doing my best to ignore the noise. The idea here is to feel sustained and supported, not fall prey to trolls and misinformation.
Slack (https://slack.com/) is a great way to stay in touch with friends, family, and peers in an invitation-only/controlled environment. It’s a chat app where you can also share files, links, images, and such on both mobile devices and computers. And they offer a free version.
My Northern California chapters of both Sisters in Crime and Mystery Writers of America both include groups.io with the memberships. This provides a platform for emails, chats, sharing files & photos, and the like. We’re also starting to hold chapter meetings using video conference apps. Zoom, WebEx, Google Hangouts and Skype are all popular and are free or offer free tiers of service.
Social distancing may be required for a while, but it doesn’t mean we can’t still be social.