Writing for Resilience: How to Stay Happy During PandemicAugust 18, 2020

Melbourne's resurgent outbreak means one thing: We need an escape. You want to dive into the cold winter water - and take a selfie. You still can't get enough of family meals. And you want to read more. Why not write more?

The pandemic's grinding reputation reminded you of Coraline Jones. You wished for the Other World, where you don't have to wash your hands only to dirty them again, stand close to your mates then remember to step apart, and wear a face mask or go back to isolation. Then again, the term is more challenging than the previous ones. You are tasked to understand the pandemic and its effect on the university. Has social distancing change relationship between teenagers? There is no right or wrong on this one, which a coursemate can talk for hours. You can request for another time. (You must not forget your deadlines.) How has coronavirus changed how you use the Internet? It won't take a second to think about that question. Bingeing on Netflix? Yes. Listening to a recorded lecture and watching a film at the same time? You don't have to answer it (for now). What songs matter to you now? Your friends wouldn't relate to the Bee Gees (or Air Supply), but sound could be a powerful force. And your sister is an old soul (when it comes to musical preferences). She keeps on playing their songs (and you're too polite to ask her to play something else). The answers to these questions may be trivial, but it's not. Think of Roald Dahl's short letters to her mother, which became the basis of his down-to-earth, if not amusing, autobiography. Think of Marguerite Duras's recollection of her teenage years, struggling to keep her head above water in colonial Saigon. (Her autobiography, which was written in shorter paragraphs of several sentences or more, cemented her legacy.) And imagine the spearfishes that you can see during the late winter. It could be a great addition to your essay on "The Old Man and the Sea", but you must wait for another term. It would show that writing is therapeutic. 

Writing would help you in outclassing the pandemic, even if your university has THE responsibility in helping you in increasing a flexible schedule for you (and your tutor). It also makes you forget about varsity players who must try to be contented with the telly. (They are not old enough. Think of the cost.) And you don't have to be obsessed about the metrics on remote learning. You can clarify it with the secretary of your department later. This therapeutic exercise may not guarantee a shortlist for the Miles Franklin Award, but it could make you get used to writing under pressure. You don't want to be too exhausted before Christmas. 

6 Writing Projects to Try at Home

Your very own Quarantine Diaries. You can describe an anxious, claustrophobic world on pause or you want more students to react to a post on your journal (if you post it on your social media accounts). What do the objects in your room say about you? What's the first thing you plan to do after quarantine? Do you enjoy going on a walk - especially now? These questions can help you on venting out your emotions. (You want more time to dream a bit, forgetting the fact that Australian teenagers are generally inactive.) Don't forget that writing in your journal would help you organise your thoughts. It should shorten the number of hours on paper writing.

Personal narrative essay. Personal narratives are powerful stories about life experiences, and no experience is big or small. As Roald Dahl would put it, describe the experiences that would affect you. What are your worries during the winter? What are your hopes during the summer? How does your pet dog provide comfort in your life? These questions would show that you don't need to think long and hard about your own narrative. And you must not compare notes with your coursemates. 

Write a poetry. You don't have to channel your inner Bard, as you only need to compose a stanza after looking at your recent Instagram post. It can be an image of a deserted beach, which you visited a few weeks ago. It can be the sight of professionals without masks. It can be the possibility of the Australian Open being held during the fall (or spring next year). You can learn a thing or two from "The Apocalypse", which was written by Dr. Elizabeth Mitchell, an emergency doctor in Boston. 

Send a letter to the editor of the student newspaper or pen an editorial. You're updated with the latest in coronavirus, so it didn't take long to decide on making your voice heard. You must be serious about what you have to say, so forget titles like "I'm 19. Coronavirus Made Me Isolated and Depressed." (You can write an editorial about it IF you're still struggling with remote learning. But you must provide facts and figures.) Should universities change the way they grade students during the pandemic? You're not too late in making your opinion about it. When pandemic ends, will university change forever? This would make students turn their heads IF you pen an interesting, if not thought-provoking, editorial. Your choice of strong words isn't enough. What is your forecast for the next year of a pandemic? If you write your letter well, then expect lots of responses. But keep it short. (In other words, a letter of 500 words or less.) If you have a strong opinion about it, then compose an editorial. You must be direct to the point.

Write a review. You're thinking about writing a 500-word on your accommodation (before the pandemic), which might help health authorities in deciding if it's an ideal place for quarantine. Don't. It's not that you don't want to court trouble, but there are other ways of showing your concern on those who are affected by the pandemic. You can think about it on another day, if not the week after next, as you must prioritise your mental well-being. You need an escape, even if it's for a few hours. It may be too late to write a review on the musical version of "Muriel's Wedding", but not the sequel to "Coraline". Neil Gaiman will write the sequel to "Neverwhere", and a few coursemates want to see the Other Mother one more time. It makes you look at them differently, but their opinion can be added value on your essay on Gaiman (next term). 

What are you an expert at? You're thinking of the proper way to wear a face mask. It's a good idea after everything you read about the recent outbreak in Melbourne. It can also be your own version of spaghetti, which you have perfected during the last few months. You can also do a FaceTime tutorial on how to critique a novel. If you have other ideas, then let your family and friends know about it. They can help you with this endeavor.

What Life Looks Like Amid the Pandemic

You can put your social media accounts to good use, where images would convey powerful messages. If you're a resident of Victoria, it would be too risky to go out, go around and take photos. A deserted street in your neighbourhood would do. An untidy room could send a strong message. Dishelved hair (or beard) would make some friends ask you if you're OK. Don't forget to caption it. A few sentences would do, which you've learned during your first year at the university.

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