Hey, Writers! Now Is Your Time…… To Save The World For Real (For Once)

Writers….

The world needs your help. Right now this minute.

Think about it. Seriously. When was the last time someone shouted “HELP!! I NEED A WRITER!!”

(Around the same time as someone shouted “HELP! I NEED AN AUDITOR” or “HELP! I NEED A KALE GENETICIST”, I would imagine).

WRITERS! Now is Your Time... To Save The World For Real (For Once)

I’m not writing this blog post from the point of view of someone who can help. I can’t help in this virus crisis. I am as useless as a sponge raincoat. A dial-up internet connection. A weak handshake. A superfluous simile. I am writing this blog post as someone who is asking for help.

Why’s that, I hear nobody gasp at all, because they are all glued to the rolling headlines which for once mean something that’s really bloody serious whilst simultaneously reminding us of something bubonic from the 1300s?

Well, it’s because it occurred to me that something is happening globally today which has actually never happened before in human history. And that is that the world needs help… from writers.

This is because the world is currently dealing with a new reality. And when we can’t make sense of things, we all go hunting for advice.

So quite apart from the fact that there is more of a thirst for content now than ever, meaning that for the next 3-4 weeks blogs will be more relevant than they have been since those last famed five minutes in 2008, it’s time for writers to think about what they can offer the world, and give it. Now. Because all of a sudden, the world is lacking simple answer to the most rudimentary questions which bizarrely, only writers will have both the experience and skills to answer, such as:

  1. How the hell we’re supposed to work from home long-term

Newspapers are awash with articles about working from home, but few of them give people practical advice about how to do it AND KEEP YOUR SANITY AT THE SAME TIME.

But writers have been doing this forever. They are the only cohort of people who have consistently worked alone, from home, for years. Nobody knows this like a writer.

So I want loads of advice, please. It’s not just about productivity and purpose. We need answers to questions such as:

  • Should I wear clothes if I never use video calling?
  • Assuming the answer is yes to the above, what clothes should I wear?
  • If the answer is no, what the hell do you do for a living?
  • I normally walk to work, attend yoga classes and play sport at the weekends. When and how should I exercise now?
  • Should I get a dog?
  • How does lunch work around here?
  • How do I structure my day and avoid distractions when nobody can see what I’m doing?
  • What time should I start working?
  • What time should I finish work? Does it depend on how much I did or didn’t achieve?
  • Why is everyone posting pictures of ironing boards online?
  • How do I minimise family distractions? In other words, how many times is it legally permissible to shout at bored out-of-school children?
  • I’ve been working at home alone now for eight days, and I think I’m being bullied. Can I complain to HR about myself?

Selfishly, if you could reply with definitive answers to the above questions before Monday morning (my time), that would be great, thanks.

  1. How to stay connected with people whilst still practicing social distancing

It’s no secret that being a writer in the modern age is 95% social media, 5% writing. But it’s not just any old social media: no other cohort of people uses social media to such a bespoke and personal degree than writers. Writers aren’t about sharing cat memes and political diatribes coined by other people. Writers will generate their own memes, spew their own political DNA, and post unique answers to questions nobody asked them all day long if permitted.

This is more important than you think, because the end result is that writers are more genuinely connected to people they never meet than anyone else online. Everyone can learn from this as we close our doors. We’re hungry enough for real connection in a world where we can meet and slobber over each other in a physical sense; being locked away from each other can be as deadly for some people as a virus.

For this reason, I say writers: let your social media feeds be a beacon to those who are about to find out what loneliness feels like. Just one reply to a comment, or two silly sentences you write from the point of view of your dog could be the difference for someone in isolation between happy and sad.

WRITERS! Now is Your Time... To Save The World For Real (For Once)

  1. I’m afraid of losing my job/paycheque/clients because of the virus. What should I do?

I’m not even going to make a joke about this one. This is fecking serious. Loads of people all over the world are terrified that social distancing or lockdown rules are going to take away their livelihood, and no vague and detail-free announcement by a government about temporary debt or tax relief is going to take away from their fear on this one. Hairdressers, physical therapists, bus drivers, airline cabin crew, childminders, event managers, dancers, conference organisers: the list goes on.

Writers obviously don’t have an solution to this question (just as starting to write a book now about a pandemic is not going to help anyone). What they can do is offer some advice about living without money. About what happened that time that they quit their job and tried to write full-time. How they coped when a missed deadline, poor sales or a publishing decision resulted in them having to change horses mid-stream with no idea how to pay any bills, let alone the two red ones on the doormat.

Most of all, writers can offer stories about how the worst case scenario didn’t result in destitution or permanent damage. And what the world needs right now is positive stories about how things don’t result in destitution or permanent damage. Because they usually don’t. No matter how viral the bad news gets.

  1. I’m so bored I think I might punch a hole in the wall. What now?

Oh man, have you come to the right place! Look, writers: you are kings and queens of Imagination in today’s world. So, come on. Suggest things.

Think of the world as characters in a novel where people are locked inside rooms and apartments and buildings, and give them something to do. Make them specific to your genre – whether it be crime, YA, children’s stories.

Make a daily challenge out of things you’ve invented for your characters to do, and post them on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, your blog, (TikTok if you’re under 20). The world will thank you for it. Strung out parents may even want to pay you.

That said, if you’re a literary fiction writer, good luck with that.

And if you’re a crime writer, I would suggest that you don’t suggest that people in lockdown inflict violence upon each other. Theft either. Up to you, though.

 

The moral of this story is that in order to get through a pandemic, it’s becoming clearer than ever that we need inspiration, imagination, creativity, and a happy ending. Writers: you have never been more relevant than you are today. So get on your marks, and…. GO.

  25 comments for “Hey, Writers! Now Is Your Time…… To Save The World For Real (For Once)

  1. March 15, 2020 at 11:10 am

    A tremendous post, Tara — interesting and funny. I just linked to it on “Columnist Clubhouse” — a Facebook group run by the U.S.-based National Society of Newspaper Columnists, for which I’m a board member.

    Liked by 1 person

    • March 15, 2020 at 11:20 am

      Wow, Dave, that’s a huge compliment and much appreciated. Hope you’re staying safe (and sane!!)

      Liked by 1 person

      • March 15, 2020 at 11:46 am

        Happy to do it! Yes, I’m safe and sane (I think 🙂 ). Good luck to you, too!

        Liked by 1 person

    • March 15, 2020 at 4:56 pm

      Love, love , love this. Sharing. I guess writers have plenty to offer in the way of advice. You’ve just given me an opinion piece. Thanks and virtual elbow bumps. Allia Zobel Nolan

      Liked by 2 people

      • March 15, 2020 at 6:51 pm

        You’re so welcome, Allia – and I’ll go one further, seeing as we’re safely virtual: I’m sending you a massive online squeezy hug 😉

        Liked by 1 person

  2. March 15, 2020 at 11:39 am

    Will nurses, doctors and midwives work from home? Ha ha, I fear they will be the only ones that do have to work. When Boris gives the nod for the UK to go into lockdown, at least we writers will have something to do!

    Liked by 1 person

    • March 15, 2020 at 12:01 pm

      That’s the rub, isn’t it, Stevie? I’m so conscious that we need to protect those o the front line or who can’t work from home or are immunocompromised… it’s our job to make sure we don’t make things any worse by spreading it. And that’s a massive job in itself (one where in a way everyone is technically working from home!)

      Liked by 1 person

  3. March 15, 2020 at 1:18 pm

    I’ve never felt so inspired, Tara!

    Liked by 1 person

    • March 15, 2020 at 2:28 pm

      I might just have found my calling, Sarah… inspiring others to provide all the inspiration 🤣

      Liked by 1 person

  4. March 15, 2020 at 1:34 pm

    Great post, as usual. I wonder how many people do work from home nude?

    I’m more concerned about post-coronavirus. All those books and movies we’ll be flooded with explaining what happened as if we just landed from another planet and wanted to know.

    But, seriously I feel for those who have lost their income. Political talks and tax breaks in the U.S. never reach them.

    Liked by 1 person

    • March 15, 2020 at 10:13 pm

      Your question is a question for which I will happily live a long life without having an answer, Stanley!!

      As regards the loss of income, I think any of us who are able to work normally will have to pitch in and help with our neighbours and friends, whether it’s for errands, paying bills quicker, you name it. We all know which governments will help the least and it’s on us to help our fellow citizens, whether the politicians deserve our help or not.

      Like

  5. March 16, 2020 at 9:42 am

    Three of my kids and several of their cousins are in dead end restaurant type jobs. Mine are now on unemployment benefit for the duration, their cousins aren’t so lucky being in the UK. Not everyone can work from home, and in places like where we live, in unskilled, agricultural jobs, hardly anyone can. I’m not looking forward to what happens when they’ve watched every series on Netflix three times and the kids are all still off school and toilet paper has stopped being delivered to the supermarkets.

    Liked by 1 person

    • March 17, 2020 at 12:58 pm

      It’s the toughest time in my living memory, for sure, Jane. Unemployment benefit is being provided in Ireland, too, but we all have people belonging to us in different countries which are more concerned with facile and ultimately useless measures to prop up stock prices, than the citizens who voted for them. I just hope that a crisis of this measure will pull the people together who’ve been torn apart by populism in the last 10 years. No matter how much toilet paper is on the shelves.

      Like

      • March 17, 2020 at 1:36 pm

        I worry about what it’s going to do to the EU as well. With borders closing not for any good medical reasons, just to pander to the populists (or take the wind out of their sails) it’s going to be hard to get people prepared to open them again. I’d like to think it was going to bring out the good in people, but, you know me, I’m a cynic.

        Liked by 1 person

        • March 17, 2020 at 1:40 pm

          I’m a big fan of cynicism myself Jane! But part of me also feels like this might be the cataclysmic event that humanity was waiting for to stop the rot of inequality and populist cancer. Money can’t buy people immunity for once.

          Like

          • March 17, 2020 at 1:56 pm

            No, it can’t. I’m keeping my fingers crossed that the people of cities like Venice will get used to having their cities clean and uncluttered, and they’ll ban those bloody cruise ships once and for all. That will do for starters, but mass tourism is unsustainable and I hope doomed. One source of inegality out the window.

            Liked by 1 person

  6. March 16, 2020 at 6:07 pm

    I’ve been complaining how the social life in our new retirement community was taking too much of my energy – and now my excuse is gone, as we’re mostly staying in our apartments.

    I realized what was going on, and decided that it’s time to really buckle down to finish my trilogy – and I’m excited to be able to focus.

    I liked your comment about blogging being important. I’ve started it up again after a hiatus when I got overwhelmed by socialization, and will write about being on lockdown – from the inside. It will be hard to find things to say when the daily life is so curtailed, but that’s a good challenge.

    Stay well. Be careful. Wash your hands. Don’t touch your face (so much harder than I thought).

    Liked by 1 person

    • March 17, 2020 at 1:00 pm

      I think you’re taking a very positive approach, Alicia – I plan to do the same with my own writing! I am conscious too that, as much as I give out about social media, and as much as I’m annoyed by people spreading fake news on same social media right now, it’s going to be a lifeline for some. 20 years ago we couldn’t have remained connected in our own homes. Now we’re not only connected, we’re inspired.

      Like

      • March 17, 2020 at 1:02 pm

        We’re connected – and maybe too much.

        I have to block the internet (a little program called Freedom) so that my brain accepts that we’re done fooling around. Hard when I know I want to be available, but the new is not great, and the stress isn’t helping.

        Liked by 1 person

        • March 17, 2020 at 1:41 pm

          I think you’re doing the right thing, Alicia. Respect!

          Like

    • March 24, 2020 at 3:29 pm

      Hi Tara, I thought I’d drop by because I haven’t seen you about on Fb or IG for ages, not that I’m about much myself, especially now. Glad to see you’re still blogging and haven’t lost that sense of humour. Give my regards to Tark and Mara, this must be killing their lifestyle! Stay safe and well, Ali

      Liked by 1 person

      • March 25, 2020 at 3:26 am

        I think you put this in the wrong place on her site.

        Like

      • March 26, 2020 at 11:35 pm

        Hey Ali, long time no speak! How are you getting on with the world-gone-mad scenario made real? I’ve been sporadic myself but you’re so right, I really should check in with the terrifying twosome and see what impact COVID-19 is having on luxury living. I’m assuming they’re in a bunker in New Zealand, much good as that would have done them as of 2 weeks ago…

        Like

  7. March 16, 2020 at 8:04 pm

    It’s good to see that someone is looking for solutions in this crisis, Tara. Personally, I’m just going to have three months of duvet days…

    Liked by 1 person

    • March 17, 2020 at 1:01 pm

      What can I say, Graeme? Netflix is my best friend right now. No matter what I preach!!

      Liked by 1 person

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