Barbara Basbanes Richter
Writing Out The Pandemic
Updated: Aug 2, 2022
To put it mildly, it's been a year.
We've all heard of people stress-baking and binge-watching their way through the pandemic, while others took enforced isolation as an opportunity to buckle down and finally write that story that they've always hoped they would.
If you found yourself in the latter camp, welcome. But how do you get started if you find yourself staring down a blank computer screen? We've put together a few ideas to help:
Set a rhythm Whatever pre-pandemic routine you had is probably gone with the wind, but that doesn't mean you can't be productive now. Setting a schedule, whether by the day or the week, will bring some sort of normalcy back to your routine. And be kind: don't beat yourself up if some days changing from one pair of sweatpants to another is enough. Start talking If you're working on a memoir, this is a great way to recall the various elements of your life. (If you've kept a diary, you're already ahead of the curve.) Type, hand-write, or audio record--the method doesn't matter--the act itself is the important part. Imagine you're talking with someone who's never heard your story before. You may not finish in one sitting, but the process will jog your memory. Don't worry whether you remember everything in chronological order, either: you'll organize the story later (see below). Look it up Turn to memory triggers if you're having a hard time recalling the details of your life. Photo albums, letters, even report cards can help recall memories from time gone by. Listening to music that reminds you of specific moments in your life helps, too. Honesty is the best policy Be honest about what you remember and what you don't. It's ok if you can't recall every detail, but include what you can, and don't stress about what you can't. Take notes Keep a journal (or a stack of Post-its) with you at all times. If you remember something, write it down as soon as it comes to mind. Don't wait until you're in front of a computer--trust us, you'll forget! These kinds of memories can be fleeting, so it's best to capture them on paper as they arrive. Get organized Once you have all your material, it's time to organize your life. If you recorded yourself speaking, now's the time to get the audio transcribed. Create separate folders (either physical or digital) for each period of your life, and fill them with the relevant material you've generated. This way, when you go to actually write your memoir, you're not hunting through dozens of files to find that section on your first date or the day your child was born--it's already right where you need it. Stay safe, be well, and drop us a line to let us know how you're doing.