Time to get writing! (Post 8)

You know that these times of coronavirus/Covid19 restrictions are very unusual, don’t you? You’ve probably heard people say that they are unprecedented (that is, nothing like them has ever happened before).

These restrictive conditions won’t last for ever, although it will take quite some time for our way of life to return to anything like what we considered to be normal.

You may not think so now, but in years to come many people – perhaps including yourself when you’re much older, and maybe your children when/if you have any – will find it interesting to know what it was like to live through these times.

There will be plenty of historical records of the nation-wide measures that were taken – the political decisions, the role of the police, of the NHS, of shop-workers and delivery drivers. What might be more interesting, however, and certainly more relevant to you and your family, is a record of what it was actually like for you, day to day, living through this time – and of how it contrasted with your life before “lockdown”.

I’m not going to suggest you keep a diary – but if you’d like to do so, please go ahead, or if you’ve already started one, keep up the good work; well done!

My suggestion is that you start in one of two ways, depending on which attracts you more.

Plan A: on paper or in a Word document, make two columns. In the left-hand column, briefly describe something that you experience at the moment, for example (perhaps) waking up whenever you want to do so naturally in the morning. Opposite that, in the right-hand column, briefly describe what would have happened in normal times, before the Covid19 restrictions: for example your alarm going off and you either springing out of bed (no, me neither) or hitting “Snooze” and eventually having to be called out of bed by someone else in the family.

Write as many of these pairs as you can easily think of, then keep adding to the document as you think of more, over the days ahead.

Remember to give your document a title that you’ll remember and – if you’re using Word – to SAVE as you go.

Plan B: write (on paper or in a Word document) a description of how you are experiencing a particular part of the day. For example, you might choose a weekday morning during what is normally school term-time. You might prefer to write about a weekend afternoon, when you would normally be out and about. Think of a time of day that strikes you as particularly strange. You might even want to begin your piece of writing with the words, “This is strange.”

Write in the first person – that is, using “I” to give your account. Make it as detailed as possible but try to avoid repetition. Remember that to communicate your experience as effectively as possible, you have to make it understandable to someone who has NOT been in your situation, or has perhaps forgotten about it over the years.

Remember to give your document a title that you’ll remember and – if you’re using Word – to SAVE as you go.

Why should you do this? Because although you think you’ll remember this time all too well, you will forget. Because in years to come – many years away, perhaps – it will interest you to be reminded vividly of what it was like. Because your children or grandchildren – perhaps – will be fascinated to learn from you what it was like when you were their age, and in a very unusual time.

Why not just record yourself talking about this? Well, by all means do, if you’d find that helpful, but (a) if you’re going to think carefully about this task and try for as much effective detail as possible, you will want to spend time over each sentence and to change and improve your description as you redraft your work; and (b) our means of recording sound have changed much more than our means of recording the written word, over the years – so a written account is more likely to remain accessible over the generations to come!

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