I didn’t used to care about weekends and now I regularly work through them as if they were weekdays, but I look forward to writing to you on a Friday.
And I’ve realised that the lockdown has increased how much I rely on regular things. Such as one particular habit, routline, schedule – no, tradition, that’s the word I was looking for. We have grown a tradition during lockdown.
Every Friday evening now, I order a takeaway. The plan was to do it to help out, if only in a small way, local restaurants. The plan was to buy from a different one each week and in that little way, try to contribute.
Unfortunately, the very first one we tried was a curry house we’d not heard of before – and it was so good that we’ve ordered every Friday since.
So much for spreading the joy. But this meal has become a highlight and it will be especially so tonight.
Because tonight is the premiere of a much-awaited musical, streaming on Disney+. In the middle of all this, it is still art that gives people something to look forward to, something to enjoy, something to take them away from the lockdown.
There is the small problem that my wife Angela believes this musical is going to be Hamilton and I know it’s going to be Frozen II.
So there I was, minding my own business in several senses of the phrase, and running a free online writing course. It was about how exactly to make time to write and it was going very well. Except, I think you see where this is going, three weeks into it, we all got handed far more time than we ever wanted.
I actually thought about cancelling this free course. It was all online, all long prepared with videos and lessons and assignments, but the lockdown was so overwhelming me that I couldn’t write and figured I was unlikely to be alone in that.
However, that stasis-like sensation, that paralysis, not only stopped me writing, it stopped me stopping the course. I was that bad for a while, but now I am in all ways relieved that I was. Because people continued doing the course, they worked through its fourth week. And in a sudden spurt of writing, I quite radically changed the final week.
I don’t know why. Week five ended up having exactly the same lessons, so to speak, as it was going to. Of course it did, this was the culmination of a whole course. But I rewrote it and somehow it became much more personal than I’d expected. You know that writing is far from being just about the words on the page, it’s more about the words underneath those, and there is something different in that new final week. Something better.
And then there was this.
There is nothing or at least extremely little that I do to relax. Everything I am interested in, pretty much, I’ve managed to make part of my job so that is fantastic when I’m working and appallingly bad when I’m not.
Except when I was in that course’s final week, when I was in writing, I felt better. Writing that, then yesterday finally finishing the first draft of an extraordinarily difficult script, and right now today writing to you, I don’t feel locked down, I don’t feel self-isolated. I’m a little hungry, since we’re sharing quite so much detail, but writing turns out to be where I go when I need to be somewhere else.
We finished that free course a couple of weeks ago and the students on it have been wonderful. I’ve got to share this one with you, I’ve got to:
This course has honestly changed my life. In five weeks, my novel has grown from 15,000 words to 60,000. If that isn’t a huge success, I don’t know what is.
I know what that is. It is bloody joyous. Thank you, Leanne.
The way that made me feel and the way that writing now makes me feel –– well, it must always have been like this but I’m feeling the haven more these days –– means I’ve got to do it again. The plan was to launch many, many paid courses later in the year, but now I’ve created an entirely new one solely for us, solely for now.
“Using This Time to Write” is about exactly how to get yourself writing during all of this. I will say this forever: nobody has to write anything. But you’re a writer, you can write, and I think now you’re ready for it.
Plus, more than anything else, I now think that writing will help you. Let’s you and I get you started, going, and writing forever – even or especially after all of this is behind us.
So “Using This Time to Write” has been a bit of a mad-dash adventure, creating three nights of mostly video lessons plus lots of written details, assignments, everything. I hope you find it as much fun to do as I did to create it, and I hope you don’t find it quite as exhausting.
This course will never run again. I will also never again shoot so much video while needing a haircut. And while you can sign up for the course now as I write this, you have to do so by the end of next Monday, May the 4th. I can’t get any more people on after that date.
So do please go take a look at it and see what you think. Actually, let me show you a short video I made about it too. That’s below. With the hair.
One last thing. “Using This Time to Write” is a paid course but there’s a special lower price for previous students. That’s what it says on the site, but I want you and I to read “previous students” as “plus friends”, okay? You’re a pal, I owe you, click that special lower rate and if anyone asks, tell them I sent you.