Can anybody remember a time when we weren’t locked down? When we weren’t prevented from going to places we like, or meeting people we love? When we could go to concerts, galleries, theatres, restaurants, and pubs. Yes, pubs. Remember those?
One of the few advantages of being so restricted is that it’s given time for other activities, and many people have turned to writing. for some it's been the chance to develop something they've been trying to do for a while; for others it's been a new venture. There are lots of clichés about writing – everyone has a book in them, it's never too late to start, there are only seven plots, etc. etc. – and under lockdown we’ve had the chance to test them out.
There huge advantages for writers today that weren’t available to scribblers in the past.
The first is that it’s very easy to write. A long time ago I wrote a novel (incomplete and, thank goodness, unpublished) on a manual typewriter. It was a cumbersome and difficult process, and it took ages,. However, I think of what it would have been like to write it by hand, maybe with a quill pen. I managed to reach around 40,000 words for my early unfinished effort, and it was a slog. The average Dickens novel is about eith times longer than that! And he wrote it all out by hand!! Several times!!!
Nowadays I write on a laptop. It's small and light, I can take it anywhere and work anywhere too (well, almost) but those aren't the only advantages. It also checks my spelling. It allows me easily to rearrange my what I've written, insert new material, experiment. And it easily keeps and organises all the drafts, so if there's something I've rejected by then decide to include after all, it's easy to find. And it's a library for me, enabling me to get any information I need and check it instantly. When I wrote on my typewriter I had to know from the start what I was going to write. With my laptop I can just begin, see where it goes, and update and move my text about as it grows.
The other big plus for writers today is that it’s very easy to get your work out there. In my typewriter days my only chance of having my finished work read would have been to find an agent who would then try to find a publisher, who might then have produced and distributed it. Or I could have had several hundred copies printed at my own expense and then tried to find ways to sell them. It’s different now. It costs almost nothing to publish on Amazon, both in ebook and paperback form, and that gives the potential to reach readers all over the world.
There is, of course,a downside and it’s a big one. It’s that because writing is so easy there are very
many people doing it. That means that the chances of being read are that much less. You’ll hear some writers grumbling about that, but if you ask me would I rather be writing with a quill pen in a drafty Victorian parlour, or sitting in a comfortable chair and using a keyboard, guess which I’d choose!