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There's a wave of lockdown literature on the way - will the pandemic allow new voices to be heard?

With thousands signing up for online writing courses and publishers inundated with manuscripts, the Covid-19 pandemic might allow new voices to be heard, writes Henrietta McKervey

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Quill power: Shakespeare's supposed example fuelled the idea that lockdown is the perfect time to write

Quill power: Shakespeare's supposed example fuelled the idea that lockdown is the perfect time to write

Quill power: Shakespeare's supposed example fuelled the idea that lockdown is the perfect time to write

By week two I was heartily sick of reading that Shakespeare wrote King Lear while in quarantine. His quill must have been worn down to its last scrappy feather, as he supposedly also used the time to come up with both Macbeth and Antony and Cleopatra.

His supposed burst of plague-avoiding creativity was referenced repeatedly in articles proclaiming lockdown the 'perfect time' to finally write the novel burning away inside you all these years. People went for it in droves: the Curtis Brown Creative's free writing programme alone received 3,500 sign-ups in just 24 hours. I have no issue at all with people using lockdown to try their hand at writing; constraints can help creativity, but a national lockdown is a very hefty constraint.

Skip to week four, and I began to notice comments on social media (full disclosure - some tweets were mine) from writers bemoaning the situation: unable to work from home because home was also now a school and/or office, or simply unable to think clearly, permanently distracted by the disturbing sensation that a piano on a wire was dangling overhead.