Writing During a Pandemic
Writing can be lonely even in ordinary times, so it’s important to find Community and Support.
Find a Writing Buddy
This can be as simple as finding a writing buddy and setting aside a time when you are both going to write. You can do this in person with someone in your household or pod, or you can write together while connected electronically by video or phone. You don’t even have to be in the same place, same time zone or electronically tethered. What you do need is a buddy and a commitment. A little bit of accountability can connect and support you as you dive into your words.
Form a Writing Pod
You can create or find group with writing friends or colleagues: Set a time to meet via a conferencing app, then check-in, set a timer, write, and check out. I’ve been lucky to join a group in San Francisco. The group started with weekly three-hour in-person sessions with snacks. Since the pandemic, the group meets twice a week on-line, which is how I’m able to write with this extraordinary group.
We have a few minutes of chitchat before we each say what we’re going to work on. Then we write for seventy-five minutes, take a fifteen minute break, and repeat. We all turn off our microphones while we’re writing, but remain connected by the vibes of community and support.
I’ve told some of my students about this model for writing in community and support, and they’ve started what they call “Writing Club,” when they get together electronically and write.
A Lifetime of Writing With Others
I’ve been writing with community and support since I was a new mother. I had three children, two jobs and no time, putting me at risk for losing my voice and sense of self. Thankfully, I found a group of mostly older women who met weekly for automatic journal writing. Whoever hosted the meeting provided hot water, herbal tea and prompts. We’d write for ten minutes, read our new work and do it again. It was during these sessions that I wrote my first editorial columns that appeared in the local newspaper.
Next, I enrolled in a writing workshop based on the Amherst Writers and Artists Method. This workshop required both a ten-week commitment and a hefty fee. I started a novel, writing scenes at these workshops; in time, the community and support sustained me write during the week. When I finished that novel, I started another, which was published.
Circles of Community and Support
I’ve also been teaching writing since 1980, first to college freshmen, and then gifted children, elders and inmates. In 2016, I taught a grant-funded memoir class at my local library. When it ended, I started a writing circle for people who live in my rural community, a place where people come when they can and pay what they can afford.
In the Rosefire Writing Circle, I create a safe space and provide prompts for timed writing exercises designed to prime the creative pump. Participants focus and fly, letting loose the unknown in the wonder of words. We immediately read this new work, bearing witness to the strange and wonderful stories that emerge using a positive response practice that engenders a synergy, where participants invariably write more, write better, and write with greater confidence.
You Don’t Have to Write Alone
You don’t have to write alone – at least not all the time. And it’s quite likely that you will write more and write with great joy when you write with community and support.