• Lucas North

How the coronavirus can improve your writing

WELL, YOU HAVE TO LOOK FOR the positives, don’t you?

The one thing the coronavirus has made millions of people do is work from home.

I accept that your home may not be a completely soothing oasis. But it’s almost certainly more tranquil than your open-plan office. Especially if you are fortunate enough to have a room or area at home to use as a dedicated workspace.

This quiet corner is all you need to see some kind of improvement in your writing.

How the office affects your writing

Here’s why…

Distractions are the enemy of good writing. Seriously.

Now, before you start throwing virtual brickbats at the screen, I’m not saying distractions are always a bad thing. Far from it. Who, after all, doesn’t welcome a catch-up with colleagues when they arrive at the office?

Most of us also like sharing a joke or two with the people we work around, don’t we?

And, hold on, is it Brenda’s birthday again? She seems pretty happy with herself, gazing at that celebratory lemon drizzle cake as it gets sliced up into just enough pieces to go around.

Driven to distraction

You see, all this stuff is good. You enjoy it as much as the next office worker. But, if you’re elbowing your way towards the fattest slice of cake, or sharing a joke with Danny from IT, or gawping at Brenda as she hoovers up lemon drizzle crumbs from her plate, you are not writing, are you? You’re not doing the thing you set out to work to do.

Even when you break free of Brenda, and start thinking about which letters to tap on your keyboard, some of the office distractions continue to, erm, distract you.

Shut the f*** up

By now, you really want to get on with your writing. But, unfortunately, a little knot of people just yards away has broken into a cacophonous 'Happy Birthday to Brenda'. Then there's the cheering. Then there's the clapping... it all adds up to one big distraction.

Back to your screen. Concentrate. Back to the task of making words appear on the well-lit white rectangle in front of you.

But wait… is Brenda going back for a second slice of the lemon drizzle? Good grief, she really shouldn’t…

Writing is a tricky business

It's precisely because you secretly enjoy those little distractions that they are the enemy of good writing.

Even if you’re focused, even if you have the mental strength to push them way, way into the background, so they become little more than white noise, they still seep into your head. Which is the last thing you need when you're trying to write good words. Clear words that make complete sense.

So, before you know it, while you’re working in this distraction-filled environment, you’ve typed ‘birthday’ or ‘celebration’ or ‘Brenda’ or ‘kicking-your-bloody-self’ onto the screen.

How 'Brenda' makes you look a fool

One or two of those irksome errors is woven so neatly into the fabric of your article, you don’t even notice it before you press send.

And pressing send now often means your words can be seen by every English-speaking, internet-connected person on the planet.

So, while it’s not ideal, while nobody actually loves living in the time of COVID-19, one sliver of a silver lining is that it gives you an opportunity to improve your writing by working with fewer distractions.

And, as I said at the start of this article, you have to look for the positives, however small they are.

Now I’ve got this blog written I’m off for a well-earned slice of cake.

Till next time...

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