Writers in the time of Lockdown

A message from The Writing Retreat…


Things to do as the world changes…

The world has changed. For some of us it has become a juggling game between work, home and trying to make sense of lockdown. For others it has slowed down and become a challenge to make use of the time spent not working or moving around. For us writers it has opened up some unexpected opportunities. Suddenly, we can go to that festival hundreds of miles away in the middle of the working week, albeit virtually. We can attend talks laid on by the Society of Authors, or join in The Writing Retreat Sundays, despite living hundreds, or even thousands of miles away. As we each adapt to the changing state of the world, we want to share with you just some of the opportunities this situation has opened up for people who write.

1. We are moving our Summer Sundays series online. The first of our Stay Home Sundays takes place on 10 May, using Zoom. We are excited that writing friends from far and wide can now join us for these sessions, no longer separated by the reality of geography.

2. In another part of Cornwall, The Writer’s Block are offering talks and workshops online, as well as the chance to join in an online Speakeasy. There are plenty of stimulating workshops for all those kids who love writing too – a great way to keep them constructively occupied during lockdown.

3. The Society of Authors has opened up its online talks to non-members, with a whole list of author talks and workshops coming up. Do check them out and see if anything grabs you.

4. If you are on Facebook, check out The Daily Haiku, a group started by Amanda Wright, a local writer in Cornwall, which has attracted some 1,400 followers and helped raise funds for the NHS. Jane recently had one of her contributions read on Radio Cornwall, which was a lovely surprise.

5. Get your fix of true stories at Stozzys.Com. It feels particularly poignant to be reading about each other’s life experiences at this moment in history, when we are all going through the same thing but often so differently. Why not write your own story and post it here?

6. Now could be the perfect time to dust off your stories (or write new ones) and send them out into the world. Have a look at the competition listings at Creative Writing Ink or Neon Books. Type ‘Writing Competitions 2020 UK’ into Google and you’ll find plenty more potential homes for your work.

7. Nobody ever has enough time to thoroughly research agents and publishers, so why not make this a lockdown task? The Writer and Artist’s Yearbook is a great place to start. While you’re there, pull that novel out of its bottom drawer, cast a critical eye over what can be fixed, and send it off.

8. Platforms such as Zoom and Microsoft Teams mean that we can still meet online so why not form a critique group and get together online to work on your novels, short stories, travel pieces? If you don’t have a group of your own, Kath runs several and is now hosting them online. Or you could contact your local writing group and see if they are offering online get togethers.

9. If you have a novel or memoir that you’ve been meaning to submit, now is the time to polish it and get it out there. Nobody comes searching for your novel, you have to get it right under agents’ and publishers’ noses and wave it about. Kath also offers editing and appraisal services, and is planning some workshops on the submissions process. Do get in touch to find out more.

10. If you don’t feel like engaging with writing at the moment, that is fine. Read a book, stare at the grass, watch caterpillars doing their thing. It’s all grist to the mill, and while your outer self is busy doing nothing much, or just trying to keep work and home life in some sort of order, your writerly self will be composting away, ready for you to get back to it when the time is right. Just breathe.

Whatever you choose to do with this unexpectedly strange summer, stay safe, stay well, and stay in touch.

Warmest wishes,

Kath and Jane (The Writing Retreat)

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