What to Write When We are Witnessing History
We don’t need preface for the time we are living in right now. Everyone is using the euphuism “the current situation” for the global pandemic. It’s a hard time for anyone, including creatives like us.
Artistic expression can take a backseat when the most pressing matter is your physical health and survival. Does the world still need your writings? It’s a difficult time, but you should still keep writing. It’s not the time to give up, even when the world situation seems bleak right now.
What should you write about, when we are at a special point in history?
Keep a journal
Now is the time when you should keep a journal. Most writers have tried journaling or thought about journaling every once in a while. Now it’s time to make it a habit. Many of us are stuck home, with more time on our hands than ever.
You can afford to take five minutes to write in a notebook. The size of the journal doesn’t matter. A small, pocket-sized notepad works perfectly — it doesn’t restrain your creativity, and it’s not too daunting like an 800-page tome, either.
There are thousands of blog posts out there about the benefits of journaling, so I won’t bore you here.
The thing is, unlike writing fiction or nonfiction, journaling can be anything you want. It can be fiction or nonfiction. You can write about your life story. Or don’t, and ends up writing an epistolary novel instead.
How? If it’s too much, too soon to write about the world right now, you can always seek shelter in fiction. You can take the “you” out of your life story. It can be something else. It can be fiction.
The point is that you are writing. It’s way too easy to not write, especially when you have a global pandemic as an excuse.
I fell into this trap. For weeks, I didn’t write anything. I listened to the internet gurus, and believed I should focus on my mental and physical health. I did, and it was nice, but my writing fell behind.
Writing doesn’t have to be work. You have nothing to prove when you are writing for yourself. It’s not a strain on your mental health, but can even improve it.
The point is that you are writing. It’s way too easy to not write, especially when you have a global pandemic as an excuse. Now we are months into the lockdown. I stop giving myself excuses to procrastinate.
Writing a journal is simple, a perfect method of recovery. I have a pocket-sized Moleskine-style notebook. I keep it by my side when I’m around the house. It’s on the couch with me, sitting on a cushion with a good pen in the middle.
I can be lazing around, watching Netflix, and it still reminds me to write something down.
Rediscover the fun of writing
Last night, I was watching Altered Carbon, and picked up the notebook to jot down a cyberpunk novella idea. Now is the time to keep a pocket notebook, which can catch all your ideas and drifting thoughts.
Don’t record the pandemic news if you want. Write for your own sake, and not as a historian of humanity.
You can find If you are overdramatic like me, you are writing down things as if it’s the end of the world. You see the tired trope in a zombie apocalypse story, where the protagonist is clinging to a pencil stub and a crumpled notebook. “I don’t know if anyone will see this, but this is my story” type of deal.
Now you have a notebook to write with. This notebook is yours. It can be digital, physical. You can use a fancy pen or keyboard. You can write anything in it. You can write your daily thoughts, or your magnum opus.
To be real, it does feel like the end of the world right now. It’s your writing. Your work. The things you care so much about. Even when no one is reading (it seems that way for me) but remember to care.
You need to care about your writing before anyone else.