I can’t really believe I’m sitting down to write about writing during a pandemic. We simply have no categories for this type of thing. I’m just thankful to live in a city that has taken swift measures to ensure we’re safe.
If you were to ask me two weeks ago what my life would look like after the March Break, I would’ve said I’d be well rested after a week off and back to my day job as a teacher. Instead, there’s not much likelihood of school returning to class for the rest of the year, and since I don’t yet have a permanent contract, I’m facing the very real possibility of being laid off. My husband is a small business owner, and you know what that means. I assume a good number of you are also facing financial hardship—or even disaster—should this crisis continue.
While I’m thankful to have the opportunity to spend this time with my children and have no qualms about homeschooling, I’m sure I’m just one of many who are starting to realize that sustaining virtual lockdown for months is going to be extremely challenging, on a number of levels.
So, I’ll be honest. For the first few days after this all sunk in, I started to wonder whether I should bother with my writing right now. Does my writing even matter in light of these circumstances? With all the pain, sickness and death happening in the world at this moment, what good could my writing accomplish?
Why bother writing during a pandemic?
Thankfully, there are others, more expert and levelheaded than I, who bring some perspective to this conundrum:
- University of Virginia historian Herbert Braun has said, “I suggest that you keep a record – in one or more different forms of your own choosing, a journal, a blog, an e-portfolio, a film, a series of artworks, a short story, poems, a series of haikus – of your life in these unprecedented days. Each individual perspective is valuable, and adds to the whole.”
- In a recent episode of her podcast, writing coach and editor Ann Kroeker says one thing writers can do during a pandemic is “document the days.”
- Canadian children’s writers are using this opportunity to share their work online by posting videos of read alouds.
- Quill and Quire recently shared a collaborative multi-mode writing project by MFA students at The University of Guelph, intended as a response to COVID-19.
People are reading and writing now, perhaps more than ever, because we are at home. Life has drastically reduced its pace. We’re looking to both read and write stories that help us feel connected, that help us make sense of what’s going on around us, or that give us hope for the future.
And for all those reasons, I’m writing today to share a free online writing course to help keep you connected to your writing and to others.
Writing Through Uncertainty
Writing through uncertainty. That’s a theme my colleagues at Sarah Selecky Writing School have been milling over since all this news broke out. How can we as a network of writers reach out to others and spread calm and support in times of uncertainty? Sarah and her team have put together a free online writing course, and it’s available right now. Each day Sarah will post a writing prompt, and there are discussion forums to introduce yourself, share your writing and provide feedback on others’ work.
She’s designed this course to be family friendly (a fun activity to do with kids if they’re stuck at home), but you could also hop on a video chat with a friend and write together to help you stay connected. There are no mandatory assignments or posting requirements. This is low stress, so adapt the course to whatever works for you.
If you love Sarah’s free course and want to take the next step with your writing, consider her online teacher-guided course, The Story Intensive, coming this fall. I have acted as an instructor for the course twice. If you sign up before the end of March, you’ll get the early-bird discount as well as access to a bonus course that will help prepare you for the Intensive. Alternatively, there’s a self-paced version called The Story Course, also worthy of checking out. You can read my review of the course here.
Whatever quiet time you’ve recently acquired in your life, I encourage you to peruse these resources and apply them in whatever way you see fit.
Wishing you health and safety!