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How writing got us through the pandemic

By Karen Ali

(Karen Ali, from our group wrote an article about our group and book for Richmond Borough Mind's newsletter, Mindful Memo.)

Throughout the pandemic we were often advised that activities such as exercise, mindfulness and art are great ways of helping with our mental health. I think we have all found different ways of coping with the isolation and the frustration of being stuck at home and for me and my friends in a local writing group, creating, editing and publishing our collection of short stories proved to be our tonic. We had all met doing a creative writing course at Richmond and Hillcroft Adult Community College. When it was finished, we decided to carry on creating our stories and meeting up once a week in a local café to discuss and encourage each other. When the pandemic hit, we carried on meeting by Zoom and created the project of each writing a short story that we would self-publish in a book, and if we did manage to sell any, donate the proceeds to a local charity. We chose Richmond Borough Mind because of all the support it was giving local residents during the pandemic.

Publishing our collection as an e-book and in print

The process was long and sometimes painful. We all critiqued and advised on each other’s stories. We recruited our creative writing tutor to take our stories through two reviews where he critiqued and helped us to polish our prose. After a final editing process from a professional editor, we set about self-publishing via the Kindle process. After getting to grips with the technology we finally published our book as both an e-book and a printed copy. Although you could say that this was a vanity project, we did enjoy the camaraderie and meeting up virtually every week and especially the feeling of taking a project through to completion. It certainly did help our mental wellbeing and we hope that if anyone buys it and enjoys it, they know that they are helping a worthy cause.

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