Lockdown, Loneliness & Writing

Even before lockdown the stats will tell you that we are the loneliest generation to have roamed the earth. There are over 9 million lonely people in the UK. I find that really sad.

During some research for a short story I’m writing I came across a few projects and organisations who are trying to improve on those numbers. One of them is also looking to break a world record with the written word, more on that in a bit.

Scientific evidence shows that expressive writing in particularly can foster a sense of connection with others, even when we’re not directly engaged with them. Writing provides a way of ordering our thoughts and feelings. It is often easier to write about things than to speak about them, I know this can be true for me sometimes. By picking up a pen and writing about things whether it’s our fears, our hopes, or our dreams, we are helping to understand ourselves a little more and building a sense of connection with the world around us. Writing is powerful – truth!

Here are just a few of the organisations who are doing their bit in the battle against loneliness.

The Campaign to End Loneliness was set up in 2017. They believe that people of all ages need connections that matter. They research, lobby, campaign and inspire people to connect and bring communities together. In 2018 they launched Be More Us – a movement that celebrates small moments of connection. You can watch the video here.

The Loneliness Project is the first in a series of digital archives which seeks to build community and empathy by publishing weekly stories about loneliness. They want to receive letters on what loneliness means to you. There are no rules, no submission guidelines and it is open to everyone. It is free to enter.

Dear Loneliness is an interactive art project that aims to break a world record for the longest length of a letter!

As part of an artistic instillation they intend to create the world’s longest letter by covering a room in over 1,000 feet of handwritten and scanned letters about loneliness, with the ceiling and floor covered in large mirrors that create the illusion of letters on loneliness stretching into eternity. They want to receive letters on what loneliness means to you. There are no rules or guidelines and it is free to enter.

Being lonely is wretched and knowing what to do or where to try and find some solace can be hard. Picking up a pen and checking out the above organisations could be a start…

Feed Your Soul ~ Ramblings of a Writer

There really is nothing finer than writing – except perhaps reading. Both provide food for my soul. There are times when the words refuse to come, so I read. Then, there are the times when all I want to do is read, and so, I don’t write. They are two sides of the same coin, intrinsically linked by my imagination which flows to and from the words on the page and, as much as it pains me, I love it with all my heart.

Yes, dear reader, it pains me – big deep unabashed stabbing pains of self-doubt and inadequacy fill me. A sense of never getting it quite right sits on my shoulder in judgment as I type away. I often wonder where the words come from and at times am left questioning if it really was me that put them there! Perhaps the words are using me, not I them?  A conduit by any other name but a conduit no less. Weird? Not really. Who knows where the words come from. All I know is they burn images and sentences within me that do not abate until they are released.

Each day is a battle to continue, to sit and know that most of what I will write will be dross and disappointing, yet it is because it is dross that I continue. It was Beckett who said ‘Ever Tried. Ever failed. No Matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better’, and that is what I intend to do ‘fail better’.

Don’t get me wrong there are victories, small quiet ‘pat myself on the back’ victories and it is these that make my heart sing. Moments of self-congratulation, however, do not stay long, they are fleeting and come crashing to the floor at every given opportunity.

Sometimes the words I smugly admired not 24 hours before have, overnight, magically transformed into the worst sentences I have ever written! On rare occasions, the opposite is also true and I dance for hours, complimenting myself on such skillful wordplay. But…. when I am there, like really there, in the zone, allowing myself to freefall into the words, there really is no place I’d rather be. It is food for my soul and I love it!

‘Ever Tried. Ever failed. No Matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better’.

Samuel Beckett