How do you write when the world is upside down?
We are currently living through one of the most difficult times in history and the whole world has been reevaluating its priorities. My seventy-eight-year-old mother has described her experience as being ‘harder than living through a war’.
Could writing help us through?
With levels of anxiety, fear and uncertainty high, some writers have been struggling to write while others have taken comfort from it. I decided, recently, to work with a group of wonderful writers on an anthology called This is Lockdown and I learned some useful lessons about writing through difficult times.
Find a purpose
When the world is out of control, when your whole life seems hopeless, try to find a new purpose, no matter how big or small. It will help you get up in the morning and face the days and months ahead.
My vision for This is Lockdown was to create a space for writers to share their experiences, support one another, read and appreciate each other’s work. I knew we had to tell things as they were so future generations could learn from our experiences.
Writing and compiling This Is Lockdown helped me to cope with isolation, by giving me a purpose. I was no longer alone.
Express your feelings
Capturing your feelings on a page can help you process them.
I kept a personal family diary, listened to the news, and wrote my experiences down. It became my priority to find interesting ways to keep my family occupied and happy. These entries became the opening chapters of This Is Lockdown. The collection doesn’t gloss over the truth. Neither is it all doom and gloom. There are wonderful moments, sunshine days spent with my immediate family and entertaining stories.
You don’t have to publish your words to benefit from writing though. Expressing yourself in a private space may be all you feel you want to do and that’s okay.
We’re hearing stories every day about people who can’t hug their friends and family, mop the feverish brow of loved ones, attend funerals, weddings and other life-changing events.
You may find it helps to write down the stories you hear. They may make no more sense or you may find a learning or glimmer of hope among the words. Writing them down can help you work through what you’ve heard and capturing heart-warming stories may also lift you up during the bleakest moments.
This Is Lockdown has become a treasure chest, a piece of living history, because it captures the thoughts, poems and stories of a diverse group of people from tough experiences to heart-warming moments of kindness.
Blank pages are okay
Some days you may not be able to write at all. Maybe all you can do is hug your journal and take comfort in knowing you will write again when you feel up to it. Your writing should serve you, not cause you more pain.
Take the pressure off yourself on the difficult days.
Do something different. Something that will comfort you or lift you up.
You don’t have to be alone through all of this.
There are lots of great communities online, lots of people to support you.
The best thing about This Is Lockdown is that it created an opportunity to connect with a wonderful community of like-minded individuals, to discover new authors to read, and to share thoughts, feelings and opinions with old writing friends.
I do hope This is Lockdown will bring you comfort too.
Heartfelt stories can touch the soul and brighten even the darkest days.
With thanks to all the wonderful, contributing authors of This is Lockdown: Richard Dee, Catherine Fearns, Lynn Fraser, Jackie Carreira, Willow Willers, Sharon Marchisello, Fi Phillips, Jeannie Wycherley, Chantelle Atkins, Tracie Barton-Barrett, Peter Taylor- Gooby, Ritu Bhathal, Alice May, Miriam Owen, Drew Neary and Ceri Williams, Katherine Mezzacappa, Sally Cronin, D G Kaye, Adele Marie Park, Marian Wood, Samantha Murdoch, Beaton Mabaso, Frank Prem, Anne Woodwin, Sherri Matthews and Jane Horwood and Melissa Santiago-Val.