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Start writing now


While self-isolating, start writing

In order to produce original written content, you need various conditions to be right.

  • Firstly, you need peace and quiet and a minimum of distractions.
  • Secondly, you need some time to think, to form ideas and work out ways of expressing them.
  • And thirdly, you need a catalyst for those ideas to start to form.

Well, right now, in the UK, at the end of March 2020, you potentially have the perfect moment to start writing. Locked down in self-isolation from the coronavirus, all three of these conditions may be in place. Looking out on my street, there isn’t even the noise of cars going by or people walking past – it is SO quiet. Inside, there are just me and my wife quietly going about our daily routines. I still have some book editing projects on the go, but the time I used to allocate to networking is more than halved, with the excellent alternative of online networking cutting out all travelling time.

So, for me, the first condition is more than met. For others, of course, life inside may well be mayhem, the opposite of an ordered life before all this. Having all the kids at home, extra responsibilities of care for others, I’m acutely aware that I’m in a privileged position and right now this may not be yours. Or worse, you may have caught the virus or have loved ones who have. For you, clearly, everything is off the agenda in the fight to get better.

The second condition, more time, may well be one which more of us have right now. If you run your own business, life has probably gone one of three ways. You may be offering goods or services for which demand has sky-rocketed such as anyone selling food and drink products online. Conversely, demand may have fallen off a cliff, your whole business rendered irrelevant or inaccessible overnight by all of the changes imposed on our lives. In which case, you now are in a state of enforced idleness. Or you may be somewhere in-between these two extremes, working doubly hard to try to prop up plummeting demand.

The third condition, needing a catalyst for ideas, is being met for all of us. The media keeps trying to find even vague comparisons for these times: with wartime, with past pandemics and financial crashes, and as time goes on all comparisons fall away. These are unprecedented times creating unprecedented challenges and seismic changes which will be felt for years to come. There is already talk of, from now on, us referring to the world BC, before coronavirus, and AC, after it. It’s that big.

So, like me, you may be in a position where all three conditions are met. You are surrounded by an imposed peace and quiet; you have more time on your hands, and your head is swirling with all sorts of thoughts and ideas.

What are you going to do?

  • You can read more - always a good option in my opinion.
  • You can watch more – it’s important to stay informed by looking at the news, but endless Netflix bingeing isn’t going to help you to prepare for the future.
  • You can listen more – podcasts are great and, interestingly, latest figures point to a move back to the radio as opposed to streaming services; for many of us there is something comforting about the human voice instead of just continuous music.
  • You can connect more – social media is finding its true purpose in this crisis. OK, it is full of even more misleading advice than ever, and pockets of hate have become even more extreme, but in general, it seems to be a brilliant way for people to share help, advice and support.

On our road, a couple of brilliant organisers have put together two WhatsApp groups, one titled HELP and the other titled CHAT, and almost everyone in a road of around 100 houses has joined. The CHAT one helps all let off steam, with some welcome humour to the fore. The HELP one is providing a brilliant social service, checking up on the elderly residents, giving advice about shopping etc and offers of help to get prescriptions, plus dozens of other topics.

So, it’s a great time to read, watch, listen and connect.

It could also be the perfect time to start writing. This could be of two types – in direct reaction to the crisis, or something completely different. In my next blog I’ll go into more detail about what type of writing may work best for you right now.