I’ve read a lot of writing Tweets, Facebook Posts, Blogs etc… recently which tell you that as a writer, you should be using this period of self-isolation to write your opus or become super-productive!
But in times of stress, fear and worry, it’s not always possible. I’m also now a full-time home schoolteacher (and has to be said, not a very effective one) and I’m also trying to help out locally here or there where it is safe to do so, as well as safely navigate the empty shelves for food to feed my family, when I can and then turn these minimal ingredients into some sort of meal. Thankfully, toilet-roll is not an issue as I have plenty of abandoned screenplay drafts to use as a last resort.
What is more important during these times is to store up the things you see, feel, smell, hear etc… What are the emotions you are going through? How does the fear feel, living in a world like this? How are people behaving? – from the shop-emptying idiots to the online narcissists telling everyone they get what they deserve? There was one particular twazzock (love that word) on Facebook for example, gloating that he had emptied his local Tesco of bottled water and gleefully declared everyone else was ’f@%ked’. Let’s see how many friends he has when this blows over. And blow over it will.
Times of crisis bring out the best and the worst in people – these are traits that your characters go through every scene of your screenplays and books, so note it down or even just remember what you observe and experience, so you can use it.
No doubt there will be a raft of screenplays about pandemics etc. when all this is over – but I have a feeling the last thing we will all want to watch, when we creep out of isolation, is a TV series or film about being in isolation. Maybe studios will be seeking positive, upbeat stories that warm the heart and show the best of humanity… dystopian futures can go on the back shelves for a while – but hey, maybe I’m wrong and we’ll be drowning in zombie flicks in the next few years.
Whatever you write, do not feel extra pressure to do so. For some, sure, this is the ideal time to get cracking on the writing – for others, simply getting through each day will be the hardest thing to do – the number of people in our industries (writing, acting, the creative arts) who have mental health challenges that range from mild to severe, is staggering. For these people, simply keeping in contact with others will be the main part of the day and so it should be. If you know people, online or elsewhere, reach out, chat to them, help them not feel alone. Join a writer group on Facebook or Twitter and engage with people. Try and read a few screenplays, give each other feedback and help each other out. Keep in social contact via social media. Stay sane. Isolation is not good for anyone long term, so please stay connected.
What ever you do, do not feel under pressure to write. Writing should come naturally – I’m not one of the those people who subscribe to the view that you must write every day – that’s pretentious writer bullshit, frankly, designed to make us feel inadequate when can’t manage to open up the laptop. It helps fuel fear of writing and create and worsen writer’s block.
Lastly, if you’ve made it this far through my blog and you have something you want feedback on, I’m happy to do so for free. I normally charge for this, but I would be more than happy to read your work and give you detailed feedback. We need each other during these times. If you email me on my website link, I’ll get back to you with a few hours – I’m, also happy to Skype/call to talk too if you need or want a more personal touch.
These are confusing and strange times – financially devastating, emotionally challenging, creatively difficult times. So let’s help each other through this.
Have a fabulous day. More importantly, be safe.