Lockdown and social distancing have changed how and when writers write. For the foreseeable future, writers worldwide will have to turn their homes and window views into realms of inspiration.
Though daunting for many, lockdown is a unique life experience that can fuel creativity – creativity that in return can fuel us. Like other striking life events it can enhance your understanding of the world, of other people and of yourself.
Here are some ideas on how writers can stay creative in limited spaces:
- What is outside the window at different times of day and night? Take notes.
- Try a different window, in a bathroom or hallway.
- If you spot a passer-by, write a piece inspired them. Who might they live with? Give them a name! What obstacle might they be facing today and how might they overcome it?
- Place your writing chair in a new position or room. Moving your chair is one of many useful practices in the book Mindfulness: Finding Peace in a Frantic World, by Mark Williams and Danny Penman.
- Take inspiration from the sky. It is a landscape that changes ENDLESSLY. Describe it, write a poem about it. If you feel stuck, take solace and interest in how it fluxes.
- Focus on nature, even if you only get smallest snippets from your window or garden. Write about the birds, spring leaves or weather right outside your home. Take note of any insects in your home! What are they up to today!?
- If you are home-schooling, aim low and make written/mental notes in free moments. Accept that writing time will be bite-sized or on hold at times. My other half is a frontline health worker so I am usually ‘homeschooling’ alone. (I use that term loosely. My son is watching Jurassic World right now.)
- List sounds you hear, or don’t hear, from your home. Our street feels eerily silent. A wood pigeon cooing on our roof soothes my dawn anxiety. Write a piece based on what you hear.
- Listen to the radio for company/inspiration. Online site Radio Garden gives you a planet speckled with dots to click on, so you can hear radio stations anywhere. (As discovered in Charlie Connelly’s Last Train to Hilversum, a funny and informative book about radio.)
- Imagine the life of someone else in lockdown, on the other side of the world. Someone with a completely different home, climate and lifestyle. Write about their imaginary day.
- Who lived in your home a hundred years ago? Guess! Give them a name and write a short piece about them.
- Let the imagination run free. Write about a person or place in history, the future, or in outer space. Write about an imaginary walk up a mountain, through a jungle or in a city. What can you see, taste, smell, hear or feel?
- Keep a notebook. This could be a diary of lockdown (these being extraordinary times), a diary recording weather changes (useful for remembering how to depict scenes and seasons in future writing), or a general diary noting down descriptions, thoughts or story ideas.
- File ideas under categories. These could be descriptions you can use at a later date – smells, textures or how light falls on objects – or plot ideas. I have a box full of index cards categorising descriptions and ideas by headings such as ‘nature’, ‘animals’, ‘water’ or ‘story ideas’.
- Connect with other writers online. The world is in the same boat right now.
- Enter a writing competition. Tonnes are listed online!
- Get inspiration from virtual art tours and virtual concerts.
- Seek out a masterclass. During lockdown there are tonnes of free classes flying around the internet. My previous creative writing tutor, author Mimi Thebo from the University of Bristol, is a great teacher doing online classes.
- Write something funny. There is enough gloomy news out there already. Cheer yourself up!
- Stay fit and healthy at home to keep the writing in shape too. A Frenchman ran a marathon on his balcony, but if you want something more traditional then Joe Wicks the Body Coach is sorting the world out! There are endless fitness classes available online via Zoom. And eat well. 🙂
- Still can’t write? Maybe it’s time to take a rare break from the daily rush, like much of the world population is doing!
- Click here to follow me on Instagram at rebekahcurtisart.