‘Be productive during the pandemic – why creative writing can help you cope with isolation’
Since lockdown started, a lot of us have had a considerable amount of free time on our hands. I personally haven’t done much productive with my time – except writing. Writing is a way for us to get our brains working, but also to express ourselves and what we’re feeling about this strange and almost unbelievable situation. Lockdown is the time for the creative brains, and people who want to branch out into creative mediums during isolation, to shine!
As someone who has always loved writing (my year six English teacher wrote in my leavers book that ‘[my] stories always made [her] smile’), having a bit more free time to pen some poetry (some good and some not-so-good) is great. With everything going on, I find that I’m never out of things to write about – after all, this all feels a bit like the plot of a novel!
I’ve spent a lot of the last fifty days trying to craft stories I want to tell and that I want people to read. My favourite thing about writing is that I can share both a story, and my story. Often I write stories and short prose about completely made-up things, but when I read them back, there is a part of me in them. Sometimes there is a feeling or a moment, but something about them is mine. But when I write poetry : that’s when I tell my story. I write about mental health and things I have experienced, both good and bad. This pandemic is a perfect example of something which impacts each one of us in a different way, on different levels, and therefore the perfect topic to write about, even if you don’t usually write, because it relates to you too. Your experience, although shared by a lot of the world currently, is individual too.
This lockdown is so unusual and something none of us have ever experienced before, and so it’s hard to know what to do and how to cope with the new ‘normal’. I have been coping, and expressing my feelings about the situation (amongst other things) through writing. Writing is something that, as I entered highschool, became a positive thing to put my energy, good or bad, into. Writing was, and is, a coping mechanism. Sometimes I feel so restless and the only thing that I can do to help is to pick up a pencil and a notebook and write.
Sometimes what I write is terrible and occasionally indecipherable (I must admit that my handwriting is not the best), but it is never wasted time, because it helps me to untangle the way that I’m feeling about what is happening at the time. Sometimes, however, there is one line, one phrase in the scribbles that is, like I said before, a part of me. From that, I can form an entirely new piece of writing which sometimes will result in a piece of writing that I’m truly proud of.
Every now and again, I want to write so badly but cannot, for the life of me, find a way to start…the dreaded writers’ block! There are two things that I use time and time again to help me with writers’ block: freewriting and haikus.
For freewriting, I usually type into pinterest (or google) ‘freewriting prompts’ or ‘writing prompts’ and pick the first one that sparks my imagination. I’ll then write for 5 minutes with a timer, trying to keep my pen going for the entire time, even if that means writing ‘I don’t know what to write’, to see if I can get any little gem out of it. If not, I’ll try again with a new prompt. Free writing doesn’t need perfect punctuation or grammar and is, for lack of a better phrase, intended to be ‘word vomit’.
Haikus are great for when you have an idea in your mind, but don’t know how to write about it. Haikus don’t have to be in full sentences, they are concise and they make you focus on language choice more than anything else because you have a set amount of syllables. Haikus are of Japanese origin and are short poems with a structure of 5 syllables in the first line, 7 in the second and 5 in the third. Usually when I write haikus I will draft and redraft several times before I’m happy with the product. I will either use the haiku as a poem on its own, or to inspire more ideas on the original idea which can be used to aid the writing of a piece of prose or a longer poem.
However you choose to write about the lockdown – We can’t wait to read your responses. Good luck!