2020 has been a strange year to say the least. As I write this, we are entering our third formal lockdown, shops and gyms are closed and people are being confined to their homes once again. When I look back to February, I can’t believe it’s in the same lifetime let alone calendar year.

Before I Saw You

Before I Saw You

When the first lockdown was announced, I decided to leave my flat in London and spend the time with my Mum and Step Dad in Suffolk. I felt very lucky to be able to retreat to the quiet countryside and have the family dog on hand for endless furry cuddles. The first couple of weeks were spent mostly sleeping and relaxing. The preceding months had been pretty intense and my body and mind were burnt out (to say the least!) but then it hit home. I had my first book, Before I Saw You, to edit and a second one to start writing. I couldn’t afford to spend days on end distracting myself with Netflix and my mum’s biscuit cupboard. So, I tried to create some semblance of routine to help me structure my days. I’d wake up, yoga, eat, shower and then sit down and start work. Or try to…

I remember so many people saying to me ‘this time must be perfect for writing no?’ I’d smile and nod, knowing how lucky I was to be able to write full time. But in all honesty, I found it hard. Editing was fine. Editing was straight forward. It was logical and structured and everything I needed in a time when all routine had been thrown out the window. But trying to start a second book? Now that was a little trickier. Writing can be a lonely at the best of times and trying to write about people and love and relationships when you are shut off from human interaction turns out to be a little difficult. Inspiration was hard to come by and for weeks I battled with myself to churn out material and ideas. In the end I had to reason with myself and take the pressure off. I realised that forcing it wasn’t working and so if I felt the call to write I would. If not, so be it. Instead I would find other things to do. I signed up to some online courses. I started teaching yoga. I ran, I walked, I wrote a short poetry book.

However, I’d say the most important thing to come out of it was the time I got to spend with my family, something I was likely never going to have in that way again. It was an unexpected gift and one that I am truly grateful for – even if I was forced to watch four hundred episodes of Antiques Roadshow! The slower Suffolk life was a welcomed change of pace from the mania of London and it got me thinking…maybe a country life with fifteen dogs doesn’t sound too bad at all!

RELATED: How I spent lockdown by Helen Whitaker, author of I Give It A Year

‘How’s your lockdown been?’ is the new ‘How was your weekend?’, the sort of small talk you reply to with a self-conscious ‘fine, thanks’ that in no way reflects how you <really> feel. Not least because lockdown(s) might not actually be over, and after nine months you don’t see anyone in real life often enough to work through the cumulative stress of ‘all this’... to read more click HERE