Dismayed that lockdown has left you feeling uncreative? You’re not alone…

Writing is often a solitary activity but you may be wondering why you’ve struggled to make the most of your time in isolation and lockdown. The past few months should have been the perfect opportunity to write. But many of us have been left feeling battered by the outside world and its dramas, and wondering how we can possibly be creative?

On the other hand, writing is a fantastic way to deal with difficulties in life, whether that’s writing poetry or memoirs as a coping mechanism, or writing escapist fiction to get away from it all into a reality you do have some control over.

So how do you recharge your writing, regain your enthusiasm and fall back in love with your work in progress? Here are four ways to do it.

  1. Join a writing group
    There are plenty of writing groups that welcome new members, and even in lockdown many of these groups have switched to Zoom and video meetings to keep in touch and continue offering support to each other.
  • Check out the Robinson House Writers who normally meet on Thursday evenings at Connection, Norton, and have recently been getting together on Zoom instead. Find out more on Facebook at www.facebook.com/groups/RobinsonHouseWriters
  • We’re sure more and more will be getting back up and running as lockdown eases and the libraries reopen… watch out for more news.
  1. Enter a short story competition
    Writing and completing a short story might give you a real boost in confidence and enjoyment. There are two free to enter competitions currently open to entries in the Tees area:
  • Crossing the Tees annual short story competition – open to all genres of story, up to 3,000 words. Closing date October 2020. Find out more at http://www.crossingthetees.org/
  • We Are Boro short story competition – open for stories of up to 3,000 words about the Boro. Closing date 31st August 2020. Find out more at www.6e.net/we-are-boro/
  • If you write sci-fi, fantasy, steampunk or horror, the Harvey Duckman series of anthologies, which is published by Sixth Element, is open to submissions of stories around 2,000 to 5,000 words. Find out more at www.6e.net/harvey-duckman-presents/
  1. Find a local writing coach or mentor
    Sometimes one-to-one help and support from someone who has been there and done it is the most inspiring way to get the encouragement you need and the confidence to believe that you can do it too. There are several places to find a coach or mentor locally.
  • Crossing the Tees annual shoTracey Iceton is an experienced creative writing mentor and tutor, as well as a published author. She offers a personally tailored one-to-one service to those wishing to develop their writing craft. This can include anything from individual tuition on specific aspects of the craft of writing and developing those particular skills, to working with you on your current work in progress, providing constructive advice for polishing your manuscript for submission or publication. Her flexible approach means she can work with you in any way that suits you. Tracey also offers a full range of editing, critiquing and creative writing development services. See www.trywriting.co.uk or contact traceyiceton@hotmail.co.uk for more details and prices.
  • Sixth Element Publishing offers one-to-one mentoring for writers at any stage of their work, from initial ideas, through story and plot development, to advising on publishing options. See www.6e.net for details and prices, or call for free inspiration at any time.
  • Writers’ Block NE has a yearly project to support twelve writers in writing their novel, as well as opportunities to meet agents. The project is already under way for this year, but keep an eye on the website at www.writersblocknortheast.com for details of future projects.
  1. Join an online writing community
  • Not limited to just Tees-based writers, but there are plenty of local writers who are active on social media such as Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. The online writing communities can be a great source of inspiration, humour and gentle encouragement. Drop us an email if you’d like a chat about jumping into an online writing community.
  • Look out for the hashtag #WritersOfTeesside to find us in social media.

If you prefer to work alone, simply set yourself a goal and set yourself a deadline. If you decide that you want to hold your book in your hand and see it on the bookshop shelves, decide when you want your book to be published and work backwards to plan the deadlines you need to hit to accomplish that. If you want to submit your work to an agent, carry out your research, work on your pitch and go for it.
Finally and most of all… write. Sometimes that can be as simple as writing ten words in a notebook and leaving it at that for the day. Who knows where it may lead…

Article by Gillie Hatton and Graeme Wilkinson
Sixth Element Publishing

Photo by Jay Moussa-Mann.