Writing to Cope: How Teaching Is Keeping Me Sane
Now more than ever we need to be careful not to let our minds rot, it can be easy to become complacent in lockdown.
I travelled to the UK to visit family and friends about two months ago. Initially, I was only supposed to be stopping for a month, but that was not to be. Of course, being stuck on the other side of the world from my home and partner has been a little more than slightly stressful. I have had to make a lot of adjustments, a lot of phone calls and I’ve sent so many emails my fingers ache. This isn’t a great time in my visa process to not be in Australia.
In this new world order that has seen most of us trapped in our homes for all but an hour a day, we have to find ways to keep it together and to oil our brain cogs.
The average adult human is constantly busy, constantly on the move, constantly doing something distracting. Lockdown has seen an end to agency, especially for those who aren’t lucky enough to work from home. We no longer have people to see and things to do, things that keep our brains occupied. In month one this was sort of nice, a break where the laws of getting dressed in the morning and daytime sobriety didn’t apply. As we move through month two things are getting intense, we begin to feel like we aren’t achieving anything, where’s the motivation? This is why I decided to do something, and that something might be helpful to one or two bored individuals out there. I teach creative writing online.
Teaching creative writing is something I was planning on doing in Brisbane with The Space. This was before being stranded overseas, before the lockdown. Luckily the wonderful creator of The Space Angela McKay decided that now more than ever people need creativity.
Though she is providing us creative types with a platform to share the love as it were, we are utterly in charge of our teaching content. Which is why I have decided to make a large portion of my courses free. Hopefully, my paid and far longer courses on story structure, world-building and what have you will subsidise the platform for free downloadable content, mini-workshops and children’s workshops. I don’t know about everyone else, but I certainly do not have the disposable income to pay for luxuries like online classes at the moment.
Primarily we need to focus on why providing online classes and content is so important in the current climate. As isolation and separation continue our brains will not only start to lose their edge but may experience new things. Such as depression, anxiety, mood swings, and who knows what else. If we can’t explore the outside world we may as well explore our minds. This is especially important for children, nurturing creativity when they are so extremely bored can give them an excellent outlet for frustration. My way of dealing with existence has always been writing. If you’re angry you write about it, if you’re sad you write about it, if you’re falling apart write about it. Translating emotions to paper can be one of the best ways to deal with them.
The Space doesn’t just provide creative writing, there is a myriad of classes available for the terminally bored and uninspired. Everything from meditation to silversmithing, a wide and incredible variety of new skills for us to explore. All teachers will be providing one free class and some downloadable content. It is essentially a smorgasbord of classes for you to pick and peck at till you find something that could be your new passion.
Experiencing the pandemic from the UK has been fascinating. We currently have one of the highest rates of infection in the world, especially compared to Australia. This clearly comes from a huge population crammed onto a tiny island, but that doesn’t make it any less scary. We also have the NHS, a publicly funded system that is not even nearly capable of dealing with a pandemic. However, it has been amazing to see how people are coming together in support of those who don’t have the luxury of staying at home. Every Thursday at 8 pm the street erupts in applause, banging pots and pans, fireworks. People cheer for the NHS and the carers, the people who are risking their health and their sanity to keep us alive. Not only is this a lovely sentiment, though it’s the actual value to the NHS is negligible, but it reminds us that we live in amongst people. It’s easy while avoiding human contact at all cost, to forget that everyone around you is in the same boat. There is a sense of community that comes from all of us taking a few minutes to stand outside and shout ourselves hoarse for the carers. Local photographer Vicki Watson has provided me with these wonderful pictures of locals celebrating the NHS.
Though it may sound pallid and airy-fairy when confronted with the harsh reality that is millions of deaths due to a new and unpredictable virus, we need to do what we can. Our mental health and our physical health are at risk, to stay physically healthy we remain indoors and to stay mentally healthy we need to keep our brains active. Learn a new skill, a new language, that guitar you’ve had sitting in a cupboard for the past five years, learn how to express yourself. Creative writing gives you an outlet, an escape, a way to create a new world and new people, to tell them what to do and decide their fate. Use it to escape, use it to burrow into reality like a thirsty tic, it doesn’t really matter. The important thing is that we express what we are feeling and we share it with each other, don’t suffer alone. It’s pointless and dangerous.
If you want to have a whack at a new skill or hobby you should follow The Space with akmcreate.co on Instagram for updates on the newest courses. The full website and menu of courses should be available in the near future. Let’s keep our brains sharp, creativity might just make this isolation bearable.
Photographs of NHS Clapping provided by: