Jessica Bellamy

How-To Guide for Playwriting Mid-Pandemic


  • Every day, wake up at 7.30am because setting an alarm during an interminable lockdown is a good idea so you don’t sleep til 10.09am and then tell yourself that now is the Time You Are Going to Try to Write.


  • Do exactly 30 minutes of free writing because that’s what you set the alarm for, and setting the alarm, as outlined above, is the only way to get things done in an interminable lockdown where time is both thick and fast, and really, that phrase has not meant much to you before now, until now, but now it is just right.


  • Make weekends have meaning by making them Writing Days, which means TWO boxes of BBQ Shapes, FIVE cups of peppermint tea, ONE sleeve of Oreos, TWO cups of coffee, because any more means unbelievable reflux, ONE large sandwich that you type-eat, LOTS of Irish music because this play is set by a sea, and something about fiddles and breathy Gaelic lyrics makes you think of the wind-beaten coasts of Inis Oirr, which you have even visited, back when you could visit places.


  • Make a playlist specifically for a subplot of the play, which then sticks around, even when the subplot proves a red herring and not in a good way, but keep listening, because playlists based around songs about heroes are extremely confidence-boosting and highly recommended for plodding through an interminable lockdown and a evil pandemic.


  • Make your friend meet you for Sunday morning dramaturgy chats where you are both in your pyjamas, with a dog’s nose in the crook of one arm and a cat’s tail swishing in and out of the other frame, and if it took a pandemic to teach us that this is how all dramaturgy meetings should be? Then I still would not repeat this year not for anything, der.


  • Make your friends crowd into a Brady Bunch-and-cousins-level Zoom session to read out this play written for 16 teenage actors, and balloon quietly with joy when they laugh at a joke that you secretly worried was unfunny.


  • Find people in the arts who want to help other people write and make, even in times of crisis, and share the work with them, and see if this can help you keep swimming and keep grasping your little sweaty fingers onto that leaky pen, in amongst the rollicking waves of 2020.



And here we are. I’m very pleased that this somehow happened: a new play during a pandemic. You can read all about the process here. You can also buy copies here.