During these worrying times it can be difficult to stop one's mind pondering on what may happen next. Perhaps, one way to help is to start/resume an all absorbing hobby.
What have you always wanted to achieve? Well apparently when the plague in London led to the theatres also being closed in 1606, sources have led historians to believe Shakespeare may have written King Lear, Macbeth, and Antony and Cleopatra while he was also in quarantine. This must be inspiration enough for any budding writer.
Another way of looking at this situation, is to ask what you can do with a prolonged period without disruption. What follows are five ideas for something to do that may be of help for all you budding writers.
1. Write a novel
This is the big one, so we thought it best to get this one out first. It can be quite a commitment. It is said that everyone has book in them; the problem/question is how do you get it out.
Having an idea, an angle is important. How long does it take? Well reading Stephen King's excellent book called On writing, he provides some useful advice. His regime includes getting up early and writing two thousand words in the morning, then going for a walk in the afternoon. Don't know about you but I do my best thinking while walking. Which is what Stephen King does while he walks, thinking about what he is writing; and this is compatible with the current lockdown - one bit of exercise outside a day.
Assuming, 100,000 words for the length of today's typical novel, and say we can manage 1,000 words a day, that's 100 days; and allow another 100 days for editing then you have a novel in 200 days - or just over six months. Even if you cut it down to 500 words, you are only talking about a year.
The key is to write everyday, regular and often, and you will get there. This lockdown is just the opportunity. Good luck.
2. Memoir - life writing
There can be any number of reasons for writing an autobiography. In local writing groups, I have met people that want to write something for their children and grandchildren. In this context, it can be a way of sharing one's life experience. A lovely record for the family.
In recent years a branch of writing, particularly in the USA, has been defined as creative non-fiction. This is covered in various USA universities and uses creative writing techniques to write memoirs or other types of non-fiction.
This means the writer tries to tell a story with a beginning, middle and end, for example. UK universities are progressively looking into this area too. It is quite exciting to try as it is in general helping to engage the reader more.
Memoirs can start where you like. In the middle of the action with a reference backwards to go forwards can be a good way to structure your life story. In other words focus on the interesting parts.
Telling your story can also be quite cathartic.
3. Short Stories
These are considered to be quite challenging to write. Everything happens over a shorter space. Whereas, backstory can be developed in a novel, in a short story there isn't much room over say 2,500 words or so. Hence, ways have to be found to establish a coherent plot.
It takes much less investment in time for a writer. It can be a good way to try an idea that may then grow into a bigger theme - a novel for instance.
There are opportunities to submit stories to writing competitions, Short listing of entries can be a good way to launch a writing career.
4. Flash Fiction
This is an interesting area for writing. 500 words or so or less means this is something that can be done quite quickly. It is good for trying out ideas quickly. If something doesn't work, at least you haven't spent too much time on it.
There are opportunities to submit flash fiction on websites where you can even get paid. Different structures in this form can mean you have plenty of scope to experiment. Perfect for those days when you can't go out. It is quite a fun form.
Think of it as like being on the edge where you can look out to the infinite. You have so many options.
This is probably an area most of us brush up against. In a way regular status posts on a Facebook profile is like a blog.
If you have something to say, and on a regular basis, blogging is a good way to get it out there. A blog diary during a lockdown could be a good one. Shared out, as we are all in it together, could be of some interest to a lot of people.
Build your audience and this can also build a writing career. Talk about your novel you are writing or provide a link to some of your short stories. It is an important area for budding writers. Just build a website and on you go.
Whatever your interest, this is a good time to write. The main message though is shown below.
Staying home and writing, you will help in the life saving aim of social distancing.