How To Stay Sane in the Publishing Industry

Okay, so we all know COVID-19 is happening right now, right? We’re all caught up, we all get the gist? Keep your mask on, stay six feet apart, wash your hands for twenty seconds, try to isolate—do I have to keep going? I think we should all have caught on to this massive world event by now.

Yes? Great.

The first few months of isolation weren’t terrible. I’m pretty sure we all had the same mind set: I’m going to get fit, make some banana bread, and get my life together. That didn’t happen.

Then we hit four months. Reality really set in, and I realized I actually hate banana bread.

Suddenly we were at nine months: “Holy crap, this winter was awful, there is so much upset in the world and I have no hope. What are we going to do? Should I try to make banana bread again?”

Now we’re at twelve months: “I don’t even remember what real life is anymore. GIVE ME THE VACCINE.”

Staying sane in these tumultuous times and just living through the fact that we are in a massive disaster has been . . . less than easy. Every industry is being hit hard, and the publishing industry isn’t doing any better than the rest of them—especially independent presses who were struggling to get by in the first place. On top of it, no one can even cry with their friends over the struggles unless they schedule a Zoom meeting.

So what’s someone in this book publishing program to do? The people here are in grad school, working full time at Ooligan Press, living through a pandemic and social uprising, and some of them are even writing a thesis. Where’s the time for self-care?

In truth, self-care can be found in boundaries. It’s easy to let work and education overwhelm you, especially in this time of isolation we find ourselves in. There are so many things to do in the press, in classes, and in our own lives that we can lose the time we need to, well, take time. It can feel like there aren’t enough hours in the day, or minutes in the hours we get, to just take time for ourselves—but there are when you add boundaries.

When I first came to Ooligan, I would lose my day to editing assignments or overthinking mini-essays for classes. I suddenly didn’t have time to grab a beer with friends or hike that one trail, and it was all because I refused to establish the boundaries that are needed in everyday life.

Now I only work from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. on the weekdays unless there’s an emergency and I make sure to go on walks during my lunch. If I didn’t, I wouldn’t have time to work on my next art project or even stretch my legs. In the end, the change in comma placement can wait and the concern about proper ISBNs isn’t an absolute emergency.

If boundaries aren’t established with work, school, and social life, then you don’t have time to focus on what really needs your attention. You.

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