Do you dream about having uninterrupted time to write? How about uninterrupted days to write? 

Here is a short one for writers, straight from my ‘managed isolation’ in New Zealand. 

It is not about my experiences with actually being in managed isolation (or quarantine) with kids as I am at the time of writing this, it is about how I imagine being quarantined by myself would go for me.

Feeling Guilty About This Dream, but…

I find myself dreaming about it, as the days go by. I do feel guilty about my (somewhat) weird dream and a little bit like “be careful what you wish for.” 

But just picture this.

You are in a hotel. By yourself. And you can’t go out.

You get your food delivered three times a day. The meals are pretty well balanced, so you are never bloated and you don’t overeat. Unless you order in, but I wouldn’t. 

There is all the coffee and tea you can ever want. 

There is a pretty shitty internet connection.

A few channels on TV. 

A perfect writer’s retreat, wouldn’t you say? 

You have your laptop and your Kindle (or some books) for breaks.

Maybe a movie or two or an entire TV show to binge on when you need to shut down for a few hours. 

You sit there and write.

You finally have time to tackle all those articles you wanted to write, all those blog posts, and perhaps even getting a start on the  book that has been sitting in your Scrivener for years. 

You sit there and write, and occasionally you stare out of the window. 

And a Little Bit of This

Your room overlooks the entrance to the hotel so every now and then there is some entertainment.

You watch KFC or McDonalds delivery arriving that your co-detainees ordered via Ubereats.

Every now and again there is a police car that pulls up and you imagine that someone has been naughty.

A bus picking up the Covid-19 free and taking them away and another bus bringing in the new suckers who will spend their next 14 days in quarantine. 

You are alone. So you write. 

You could even try meditating. There is time. 

You don’t have to do anything else.

You don’t even have to wash your dishes, you just pack the paper plates into the paper bags, put them outside your room and voila, all done. You may want to wash or reuse that coffee cup. 

Mr. Martin Knows How it’s Done

Reminds me of this post by George RR Martin who writes by isolating himself with his ‘minions’ who provide services such as cooking, cleaning, bringing him coffee, and watching movies in the evening.

Everyone morning I wake up and go straight to the computer, where my minion brings me coffee (I am utterly useless and incoherent without my morning coffee) and juice, and sometimes a light breakfast.  Then I start to write.   Sometimes I stay at it until dark.   Other days I break off in late afternoon to answer emails or return urgent phone calls.   My assistant brings me food and drink from time to time.   When I finally break off for the day, usually around sunset, there’s dinner.   Then we watch television or screen a movie.  The wi-fi sucks up on the mountain, though, so the choices are limited.   Some nights I read instead.   I always read a bit before going to sleep; when a book really grabs hold of me, I may read half the night, but that’s rare. I sleep. The next day, I wake up and do the same. The next day, the next day, the next day.

George RR Martin Blog Post

A dream come true including crappy internet connection and all.

Alone with time to write. 

Isolated but with (Almost) No Time to Write

Maybe you can tell I am writing this post from being quarantined (or in “managed isolation” as it is politely called by the NZ Government) with my husband and 2 kids. (10 and 4 years old)

I have read occasional reports about people trying to escape managed isolation and I am (a little bit) baffled.

I mean, you would expect those people with three small kids stuck in a tiny interconnecting room that barely has space for a yoga mat to run for their lives. But they don’t. They stick around and do what they can to keep going.

On the other hand, I am experienced enough to know that before I had kids and actually had time to write, I didn’t use that time well. I didn’t realize what I had. We sometimes don’t, until it’s gone, right?

I Would Do This

But from this vantage point, I say, if you are lucky enough to be placed in quarantine by yourself – do not let this time go to waste. 

  • Write
  • Read
  • Sort out you digital photographs
  • Organize your digital files
  • Plan your year
  • Learn how to build a web page in WordPress (.org)
  • Finish those courses you purchased but never watched. 

This is your time.

Time that can be taken legitimately, or for those of us that always seem to have others around, guilt-free if you like.

I wrote about this topic once before – about creating my home office space and spending my time there legitimately (because I was working from home in my day job)

Time I want. Guilt free. Just imagine. 

I am now trying to think about how to create such retreats for myself and squeeze them into my life.

Maybe I will never get to 14 days, but a weekend perhaps? How do you do it?


  1. Taking off for a hotel retreat is such a great idea – a pampering, restful writing getaway!! I think a lot of authors do it – I know someone who went up into a mountain retreat to write her book (she’s a beautician) and another author (Andrea Levy) used to check into hotel to write – and remove any pictures on the hotel room walls to avoid them influencing her imaginative thinking!!!

  2. I’ve often wondered if I should grab a hotel room and lock myself in for a couple of days and just focus on work. It’s an alluring idea, to say the least. Although I have also created a pretty comfortable office at home, and I do pretty well there. I couldn’t imagine being stuck with anyone else though. Thankfully my husband works outside our home and didn’t have to stop when the plague arrived in the US. I hate the whole “managed isolation” and “social distancing” terms. It is forced isolation with a prettier name. I have managed to use most of my time pretty wisely and start some amazing new projects that I am excited for. I’m not entirely sure those would have happened without these circumstances, even though I do complain about it all at times.

  3. I feel like I have no time to write when it comes to getting another book done, but getting blog posts and social media management takes up so much time!

    1. Author

      I know! I never knew that this could take so much time! (esp. blog promotion!)

  4. Living alone, I have plenty of time to get things done at the moment – since I don’t have a very exciting social life right now! But as others have said, it can be hard to remain focused when you have that much time! If I wake up and know that I have nothing to do that day, nothing actually gets done. When I know I just have an hour, I’m usually good at getting stuff done. Recently, I’ve started setting myself a 15-minute timer to get some writing done every day. It works: I’m at over 4000 already!

    1. Author

      Yes, that was exactly my experience with time when the time was available just for me. Unlike you, I did not even attempt to be productive back then. Only when I lost it did I realize the time I had. Well done you!

  5. Quarantine has been ‘interesting’ for me. I was working from home before all of this happened, however, I was also doing a million and one things outside the house (so I was always on the go). With everything cancelled, I suddenly had time to focus on my writing more. However, rather than focusing on my existing blog I started a new one (this one) and watched it explode lol I had been considering starting a pet blog for ages, so I think this was just the opportunity that I needed.

    1. Author

      Wow, I can’t believe you started your awesome blog only this year! Amazing.

  6. I’m moving to Australia and will be in quarantine (no managed isolation there!) for 14 days starting early next week – so your post is extremely timely! I really would like to use my time to the best extent possible!

  7. my husband writes. He does it every day taking at least an hour of his time for it if it is a bad day (too much to do with other stuff). However being in a pretty and new place definitely helps him write more

    1. Author

      Yes, there is something about changing location that is conducive to writing.

  8. I’m not sure how I’d cope being quarantined, especially sharing a room with family, which could be really distracting. It good to hear that you got some writing done during that time.

  9. I must say, the view from your window is lovely. All that green, and just being able to see nature, and the blue sky. I would try my hardest to get things done as well. But I am sure the distractions from my girls would make it a bit difficult. But I love this, and I think it would be great to just have that time to reflect, write, read, and much more! Thank you for sharing.

    1. Author

      Yes, the post is about me imagining what it would be like if I was here by myself. But surprisingly, I still got quite a bit of writing done, even with the hubby and the kids around.

  10. Hey Stella, I love your shared workspace! The lush greenery outside the window looks beautiful, and y’all must be bursting to get out there and explore your new environment. All the best, and I can’t wait to hear/read about your adventures in NZ! 🙂

    1. Author

      Thank you!!! And yes! I can’t wait to add “Living in NZ” category to my blog 🙂

    2. I love this image. It got me thinking of which hotel I’ve stayed in where I felt I could write the most. I believe it would be Morocco where I had a private rooftop with a single chair overlooking the Sahara. I think I could quite happily write from that roof for 14 days!

  11. Great post, we had to isolate for two weeks recently and got so much content wrote! It can be hard staying focused though.

    1. Author

      That’s true. A conscious effort is needed, that’s for sure.

  12. Love this but I do not think I would get much writing done with the girls and T running rampant in the room while I try to stare out the window and think!

    Hope you keep writing though and get some quiet time somewhere inside those 14 days!

    1. Author

      Surprisingly, I have! Once we got over the jetlag, we were able o organize much better.

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