Linda Hampton is an actor, singer, scriptwriter, and theatre director. In this Blackpool Social Club article, she tells us more about her latest project: “Write at Home”.
Tell us a bit about you.
Linda: I have always written creatively from angst-ridden poetry as a teenager and beyond, to play scripts in my career as an actor and drama teacher, to more recently publishing two books during the pandemic- namely Wish You Were Here Seaside Stories-a collection of short stories for children and The Art Worms on Imagination Street- a quirky and absurdist illustrated book about Art and Creativity, with artist Francis Charlton.
I have always found creative writing absorbing and fulfilling in that it allows me to express my own ideas freely, to entertain and inform, and to find my unique writer’s voice. I am keenly aware of the benefits of being a writer so in the last 14 months I have been teaching creative writing online to paying clients with very pleasing results. I am not only enjoying the benefits of working on my own writing projects but am also able to help other writers to develop a regular writing habit as they discover their talents.
Writing creatively can help to improve wellbeing, confidence, and mental health because when you are writing your focus is drawn to what you are creating. Through using your imagination, you can travel anywhere in your mind, create other worlds, make incredible things happen, create amazing characters and escape from your everyday routines and challenges for a while.
When the pandemic hit I found myself, like everyone else, of course, locked down at home. We all dealt with the situation in different ways but I am so grateful that I still had the drive to create during that time. I was quickly drawn to focus on my writing and actually wrote my seaside stories in three months combined with reading them aloud in character live on my Facebook page twice a week. The self-imposed deadlines meant that I had a purpose during those long months at home and soon found myself in a new weekly routine writing and performing to a small band of faithful viewers. In June 2020 I decided to self-publish my short stories, which was a wonderful way to celebrate my achievement during such a challenging time.
I was already working on my illustrated book about the Art Worms and which was published in October 2020.
In September 2020 I felt that I wanted to share the benefits of writing with others so I began teaching creative writing online using Zoom to paying clients, many of whom were shocked and surprised to find that they had a hitherto hidden writing talent that began to emerge through the sessions.
Tell us about your current project.
Linda: During the pandemic, I was, and still am, considered clinically extremely vulnerable due to a condition that causes me to have low immunity. I am now triple jabbed and feel much safer but I am still extremely cautious about where I go and who I meet and I’m sure this will prevail for some time yet. I’m sure I am not alone. It was during the lockdowns that we often heard stories about people who were socially isolated and homebound even before the pandemic through numerous health and circumstantial challenges. These people potentially remain so as most of the population are beginning to feel free to live their lives again.
So, knowing the benefits of writing creatively and having experienced that social isolation myself, I decided that I wanted to be able to offer this to others who are more isolated in the longer term. I was delighted when I received a YES from Arts Council England to my application for a grant to fund this idea as my project-Write at Home.
Write at Home will be entirely accessed online using Zoom. There will be a series of taster sessions for people to attend to find out whether the project is for them, followed by two 6 week courses starting in January 2022 in which participants will take part in a variety of writing prompts and challenges each week plus some tasks to complete between sessions to develop a regular writing habit. All sessions are completely free to participants. All you need is internet access and a device through which to access the Zoom links plus paper and pens.
Why does this project feel important?
Linda: The project feels very important to me for several reasons. It is for people who for many reasons are stuck at home and socially isolated from peers and family who will really benefit from regular communication, connection, and interaction. The fact that they will all be writing creatively and finding new ways to express themselves through poetry and prose will help to enrich those interactions immensely. Some of the work that is produced will be published in a pamphlet or zine that will be available for the public to buy which will give the writers a voice in the community that they might not otherwise have. I also hope that there will be a lasting legacy, as participants are inspired to continue with their creative writing long after the project has finished.
How do people get involved?
Potential participants are invited to contact me via email [email protected] with expressions of interest in the project and I will forward the full details in a PDF to their email.
I’m looking forward to hearing from anyone socially isolated or stuck at home for any reason who would like to explore their skills as a writer. I am very excited to be running this amazing project and I can’t wait to get started!
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