Hi everyone, I’m sorry I haven’t posted in a few weeks! Normally when I talk about writing on janedoewrites.com, I’m referring to prose fiction. During the current circumstances however, any kind of ink on the paper counts, and I’m finding myself trying out new things.
So whatever kind of creative writing interests you, whether that be fiction or non-fiction, poetry or life-writing, this mode of expression can be a great coping mechanism for troubling times. I’m going to point out three big reasons to put pen to paper when you least feel like it.
Your Writing Will One Day Be Useful to You (And the World)
I was recently inspired to keep a diary, partly from my own worries about forgetting childhood memories I was arrogant enough to think I’d remember AND the writer Samuel Pepys (1633-1703).
Pepys documented the Great Plague of 1665 in his famous diaries, providing an essential insight for future generations about this tragic event. Although I don’t see myself as the next ‘famous diary person,’ keeping a record of the COVID-19 pandemic will provide a personal account of the experience when Google articles won’t cut the mustard.
It gives me motivation to continue knowing I’m doing a useful thing and writing to an imaginary future audience (either myself or others) allows me to write about emotionally challenging stuff with some distance. In fact without this colder, factual eye, it would be impossible to write about it at all.
It Mentally Places You in a Different…Place
I’ve recently been doing some biographical poetry and researching and writing this has allowed me to travel from North Yorkshire to 17th century Lancashire; then onwards to present day Algeria (unlikely combination I know).
When I’ve finished working on this for the day, my current home surroundings feel renewed and bearable once more. Most of all I feel mentally refreshed. Like reading, writing can give you a plane ticket to somewhere in your mind when it’s impossible to travel physically. It feels wonderful.
It Helps You to Let It All out
It doesn’t hurt to say again that the process of living through a pandemic is an emotionally difficult one and we all need an outlet for our feelings. Sometimes it’s not easy or appropriate to vent our anxieties to loved ones, but writing is a simple way to offload and explore them on the page.
It doesn’t have to be a diary, you could write about a fictional character or a descriptive scene or practically anything else you can think of. Even if you’re not consciously thinking of writing as ‘therapy,’ it can be a useful tool in regulating the monsters that threaten to overpower us.
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There’s some ambivalence about what it means to be useful at a time like this and sometimes I’ve felt that I should be doing more to help people’s suffering. But while there are things we should all be doing (social distancing and looking out for our community), I’ve come to realise that our ‘usefulness’ is better defined by our individual gifts.
For some their vocation has led them to be a nurse or doctor working on the frontlines. For those with the gift of dance, their sense of ‘usefulness’ may be to boost morale and keep those in isolation healthy by uploading routines to social media. Writers have their own special gift to help others too, now and in the future; and it’s entirely up to us which form that takes.
Until next time,