Things To Do While Self-Isolating in Chicago: Part 4 — Write the Great American Novel

With tens of millions of Americans suddenly forced to work from home, to stay at home, and to confront the general cleanliness of their homes; this seems like a good time to discuss things to do while self-isolated in Chicago. We bring you this series as people with some experience in this arena, having worked from home for ten years in a 475-square-foot apartment in downtown Chicago with a wife and a cat.

Much of the world’s great literature has been written during times of adversity. From Tolstoy to Graham Greene to Oak Park’s own Ernest Hemingway, bad times make for good writing. 

As luck would have it, your MacBook Pro can be used for more than watching Russian car crash videos and totally not stalking your ex-girlfriend on Facebook. It has a thing called a “word processor,” which you can use to process words. 

While it’s popular for meatheads to claim that libraries are only places for storing dead trees, library use nationally has increased significantly. Chicago Public Libraries logged 8.7 million visits in 2019.

Think of all the garbage you read on social media each day. Surely your thoughts are funnier, smarter, and better looking than whatever is dribbling out of the twitterverse these days. Put it on paper, and a few Oxford commas, and voila!  The ghost of Bennett Cerf is pounding on your door begging you to get all random in his house. 

Need inspiration? Chicago has been the home and muse of hundreds of great writers. Names you already know like Saul Bellow, Carl Sandburg, Upton Sinclair, Mike Royko, and Studs Terkel are good places to start. Heck, WFMT has put its Studs Terkel radio archive online. But there are plenty of others to choose from. Check out Chicago’s own Poetry Foundation to begin your journey to greatness.

Fake fact: William Shakespeare wrote Othello while stuck between stations during one of the CTA’s Orange Line “This train is standing waiting for signal clearance” snafus. 

Author: Editor

Editor founded the Chicago Architecture Blog in 2003, after a long career in journalism. He can be reached at

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