05 May 2020
Top five tips for life writing from home
Professor Clare Brant
From finding inspiration during the lockdown to developing your voice, here is a guide to life writing from home from Professor Clare Brant, Co-Director, Centre for Life-Writing Research
Choose your form - are you writing a blog, diary, vlog, letter, window message?
There’s evidence to show keeping a diary is good for your mental health: it gives you a space to be in touch with your feelings, to express worries, to resolve problems. Diaries are also versatile: they can be for your eyes only, or to share. You could keep one with other people to expand material and attitudes.
Try out material
Who are you? Where are you? What are you doing? How are you feeling? What’s changed in your life, good or bad? In these anxious times, there are things that affect us all but which we react to differently. What are your priorities? What sort of future do you want to see? What will you do differently?
Find your own voice
Sometimes it comes out of the subjects you choose, and sometimes it comes out of listening to other people. Try though to keep social distance between you and clichés. Or start with a cliché and explore why it has taken root. Life writing includes images: what medium suits what you want to express? Mix, match, mash-up: it’s your choice.
Read other people’s life writing
There’s plenty about, in print and online. Art galleries and museums are putting out artist diaries and curator blogs. Louise Bourgeois drew every day, in drawings she called thought feathers, ideas seized mid-flight. Everyday details in wartime diaries are often fascinating, and helpful examples of resilience and courage.
Make it a pleasure!
Writing is your own imaginative time. There’s an old genre of writing about the world by touring a room through its contents: it shows that even small places can be rich in possibilities. Whether it’s narrative, observation, speculation or reflection, life writing can find an audience now – and in the future.
Clare Brant is a Professor of Eighteenth-Century Literature and Culture at King’s College London and Co-Director of the Centre for Life-Writing Research.