Writing at the time of coronavirus

No, it is not the “ideal” time to be writing, nor one when there is suddenly “no excuse” to not be writing.

Neither is it the only opportunity you’ll get to finish that novel, nor the time to be “making the most” of a lockdown by willing creativity to flow from your fingertips and chastising yourself if it fails to emerge.

It is a time when the forces of viral nature have pounced upon us suddenly, forcing us to cower in our own homes, and fear for our lives, and those of our loved ones.

But the rules of writing have not changed. The ways of the writing life have not been suspended. It remains hard work. It remains rewarding. There’s little that applies now that didn’t apply before, and vice versa.

Writers know that in order to get a piece of written work done they have to go through the process of writing it. No writer needs reminding. Nobody deserves to be told to keep writing, to never give up, to keep going, to write every day — not before, not now, and not when this is all over.

You can encourage and support, with great care and tact, but please don’t chivvy and reproach.

If you choose to use your time to get writing done, good for you.

If you choose to use it on research or editing — which can be easier during difficult times to manage than the typically greater difficulty of getting New Words out onto the page — good for you too.

If you choose to use it doing your stretches, eating stashes of treats, watching videos of people singing from balconies, keeping your hands clean, applauding the NHS, complying with Government requirements and reigning back your anxiety from charging towards panic, good for you too.

A blend of the three is working for me, but whatever is right for you is right.

I cannot and will not tell you what to do or what you should or should not be doing. But there shouldn’t be a shred of guilt in your bones if you’ve not written a word in a month. Not a grain of it. You’re still a writer, if that’s what concerns you. You will write again, if you’re not writing now.

And to conclude, if you’re looking for practical help and information, here are some organisations for writers offering it:

The Society of Authors — check out their Coronavirus-dedicated page, for links to funding and bursaries for writers, and general and professional guidance, if you need it.

The National Union of Journalists — their Covid-19 Information page is worth bookmarking for every helpful link you can think of, including on funding.

The Authors’ Licensing and Collecting Society — have put together a very good collection of links and sources of info too.

The Journalists’ Charity — a helpful page, How you can get assistance during Coronavirus.

Stay well, writers. This too shall pass.

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