Friday 27 November 2020

Things I Have Learned to Love in Lockdown

As we near the end of a year, it's traditional to look back, celebrate the successes and reminisce over the highlights. I'm not sure we'll be doing much of that in 2020. However, in the spirit of the season, here are my list of things that have cheered my writing, warmed my imagination, and kept me going through a difficult year.


Just before we went into lockdown for the first time, I was fortunate to get a contract for a book of Welsh folktales. The deadlines were tight, especially as I had several weeks of events booked in. 

Then, like an evil fairy godmother, lockdown waved her wand and my events vanished. I had a steady, manageable workload which kept me writing through April and May even when I didn't feel like writing. I have never appreciated a deadline so much. 

New Technology

I hate being on camera. But thanks to some funding from Literature Wales, I took the plunge into the world of video editing. I'd made short films before, but this was a steep learning curve, using my house as backdrop, navigating arguments with my cameraman, aka husband, and getting to grips with a new editing package. I use Da Vinci Resolve, which takes a while to learn, but it's the most comprehensive free package available and there are a lot of excellent online tutorials. If you're doing a lot of filming, I recommend it. Now I just need some fancy technology to help me remember my lines.

Noise-Cancelling Headphones

Excellent for when your other half is on his sixth hour of conference calls in the spare bedroom above your office.


I'd never really bothered with them before, but when I wasn't in the right frame of mind for reading, which has happened a lot, it's been great to listen to something instead. Here are some of my favourites.

Writing Excuses - Short discussions on writerly topics.

Death of 1,000 Cuts - I'm up to day 66 of the 100 day writing challenge on this one. The ten minute exercises are perfect to get me started on days when writing is hard.

Something Rhymes with Purple - Words, wordplay, etymology.

The Two Princes Warm and funny with a witty script that plays with many fairytale tropes.

Escape Pod Science fiction short stories, all excellently narrated.

Stretchy M&S Bra Tops

You can ignore this one, gentlemen. But why put up with uncomfortable clothes when it doesn't matter what you look like?

Small Routines

From bacon sandwiches on Fridays to a daily walk. When days blur into one it's good to have a way of making some moments stand out. I have a rule that I must go outside once a day, even if it's just a five minute walk around the block.

Looking Forward

I am very grateful for small things this year, but the lockdown has brought some major changes too. In particular, with my husband working from home, we decided to pursue our 'retirement dream' of moving out of the city. Why wait for retirement, after all, when next year we may all be squashed by a falling asteroid or eaten by zombies. (After this year, I'm not ruling anything out.)

So, in a few weeks time, we'll be packing up over twenty years of belongings and moving north to a village just outside Abergavenny. The fact that it's where I set my last book is not coincidental - I've been drawn to the area for a long time. 

New surroundings. New people to meet. New bookshops to explore. New inspiration. New books to write? I hope so. Here's to a happy 2021!


Penny Dolan said...

Moving to your dream home and location sounds such a wonderful idea. Hope the move goes even more smoothly than you hoped, and that you and husband have a very happy and exciting 2021 too.

Andrew Preston said...

Re: Uncomfortable clothes.

Reminded me of a greetings card I came across in my local Post Office.

Couple in a supermarket, at the checkout...
He:  Y-Fronts, string vest.
She: Curlers, slippers, dressing gown.

"We were shopping in the comfort of our own home,
then the broadband went down.."