The challenges of writing during a pandemic

What is your experience of writing during lockdown? Do fewer distractions make it easier to focus on your writing or does lack of interaction stunt your imagination and ability to focus? There was an interesting tweet chat from the Women Writers Network around the idea of writing during difficult times. Questions included:

– how do you draw comfort/strength from writing through difficult times (eg, loss, physical/mental illness, financial hardship)?

Several people agreed that having a routine really helps. Due to work, caring or home schooling commitments, some writers get up early in order to secured time to dedicate to writing. Tweeters use #5amwritersclub as an effective way of linking with early morning writers in their time zone.

– what online support is available to writers during difficult times?

Online support seems to be one of the positives of the pandemic. The Society of Authors (the UK trade union for all types of writers) offers a range of amazing online events for networking, learning and meet the author opportunities. Sessions offered earlier in the year include in conversation events with Margaret Atwood and Ian Rankin. You can catch up with all the sessions here. From 8 February 2021, there is also a week-long celebration of literary translation and the 2020 Translation Prizes, from the Translators Association (TA). Sessions are free although attendees are often encouraged to donate to the society’s benevolent fund. Click here to find out what’s on.

– What genres do you read (eg, poetry, nonfiction) during difficult times?

For many women writers attending the tweet chat, poetry was the ideal reading during difficult times. The following were mentioned: Dickenson, Bronté, Shelley, Erin Hansen, Maya Angelou, Sarah Williams, Paula Tavares.

For more information on Twitter, check out #womenwritersnet and follow @womenwritersnet

4 Comments

  1. Very pertinent blog, Gail. I find that I am reading more during lockdown. Anything and everything. My local library offers surprise packages and I’m reading Inspection by Josh Malerman, a sort of sci-fi/psychological thriller. He wrote Birdbox. It’s not a book I would have picked up otherwise. I write every day in a journal and sometimes this evolves into longer pieces.

    • That daily writing routine is so important. And good that you can develop some of the pieces.

  2. Yes, Gail, very relevant subject for this unique experience we are all going through across the planet. I have to say that my writing has as good as ground to a halt, but not really due to lockdown issues and certainly not depression. I fear it’s political. Bein an ex-pat American, I have strongly engaged, at least online, in opposition to the former president and his lawlessness. The election brought relief and hope, only for 45 to stage a coup to try and overturn it. I’m sure most readers are at least aware of the highlights of these events so I won’t rehash them. And now with the beginning of the second impeachment trial against this ex-president, my rage is stoked once again at the forces that attempt to overthrow the US democratic republic. To me, it’s existential. I probably should apologize for bringing politics into the site, but on the other hand, writers are also citizens. And we root for those who live in what we think of as less than democratic countries and who endanger their lives in a fight for freedom that often lands them in prison. Risking being melodramatic, I maintain that my homeland is in grave danger and people must speak out. As I’m not a journalist, I have done what I could: Read extensively and reacted online to articles and in blog discussions as cogently as possible and VOTED. This has occupied a great deal of my time and attention, and unfortunately, pushed writing fiction to the backburner. Even my blog, although often political, fell by the wayside, as events in the news cycle raced forwards without giving an amateur such as I time to react. The crisis is long from being over, but at least there are now steady presidential hands steering the US ship of state. Yet the future of the country will remain uncertain as long as there are no consequences for sedition and insurrection. It’s an open invitation to the next wannabe dictator.

    I look forward to a time when I can return to really enjoying fiction, for reading is a strong stimulant for my own writing.

  3. It sounds like your experiences could fuel some really interesting fiction. But it’s all about timing and headspace.

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