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Write Your Way Through Lockdown

November 6th, 2020

First, thanks to Alison for last week’s post. I’m sure it can seem rather daunting joining a writing circle – all those people who you think might be able to write better than you… being expected to share your work with others. But I hope she has put your mind at rest: that nothing will be expected of you that you don’t want to share and it can be a very positive and re-assuring way of taking your writing forward to the next level.

OK, so we’re at the start of a new month-long lockdown! Last time it happened we had the optimism of spring and early summer stirring in our bones. This time, after a long, soggy autumn I think most of us are feeling a little jaded if not downright unsettled. It’s certainly not as much fun clearing up soggy leaves and cutting back dead foliage as it was bringing your garden to life, sowing seeds and planting vegetables. Those daily exercise and well-being walks aren’t nearly as enjoyable in the cold and rain. So now’s the time to look for something else and, as winter draws in, writing is the perfect antidote.

Obviously you should keep up the exercise and fresh air, but just as you had a regime for these, now set yourself a writing time-table.

If you don’t already keep a diary, why not start? My mum-in-law died recently and as we’ve been clearing out her house we’ve found detailed diaries going back to the 1980s and earlier – one for each year. She didn’t lead an extraordinary life, but she obviously got a great deal of pleasure out of recording the minutiae of daily life. So why not give it a try? You could record how you’re feeling, your thoughts on life, what you’re looking forward to, who you’ve spoken to (if not face-to-face, then by phone, skype or zoom) and perhaps make an effort to think of a couple of things, at least, that you’ve enjoyed each day. It’s amazing how that can lift your mood.

If you don’t fancy a diary, then why don’t you use the time to start writing your memoires? Again, you might not think you’ve led an exciting life, but you’ve now got time to think about what you’ve experienced. Get those photo albums out (or, if you’re younger, trawl your phone). Think about the people you knew in the past, how they affected your life and, if they’re still around, now might be a good time to get in touch and reminisce. Try imposing some order on these memories, make notes and then start to re-arrange and polish them. If you need some help you might consider our Biographies, Memoires and Family Histories course.

If you’ve been researching your family history and collecting copious notes and facts but they’re all jumbled together and you don’t seem to be getting any further, now might be the time to start organising them and putting together a book or pamphlet for other  members of the family (or posterity)!

If you’ve read a good book, why not write a review? It probably won’t be published, but it may help you to analyse why you enjoyed it, how the writer achieved their effects, whether the characters and dialogue were believable – in other words, it may get you thinking how to improve your own writing.

Lots of organisations and writing groups hold writing competitions (see https://www.wbcompetition.com/ ) and also publish current and previous winning entries. Why not have a look at some and try to decide why they were chosen? This analysis could help you to write better. And, moving on from there, why not select a few competitions and enter them. I know that if money is tight, you may be reluctant to spend money on entry fees, but some are free and others cost very little. Just having to craft a piece of work for a competition makes you concentrate, think, plan, and edit. It gets your imagination working and takes you out of the (sometime dreary) here and now.

I hope these suggestions give you something to think about and, perhaps, a few hours of escapism and enjoyment over the coming month.

My guest next week is Writers Bureau student and published writer, Sarah Evans, who will be showing you why perseverance is essential if you want to make it as a writer.

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