We carry the light, comprising
: i) Writing in lockdown: exploring the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on writers' creativity, ii) We carry the light, a family novel set in Scotland during the pandemic

  • Laura Muetzelfeldt

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis (PhD)


This paper examines the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on writers’ practice during the periods that social distancing restrictions were in place. The study focuses on – but is not limited to – the first UK lockdown, which began on 23rd March 2020.

Structured interviews were conducted with five writers, with an additional person responding to the questions in writing. This group included writers of fiction and non-fiction, as well as poets. Interviewees were at various points of their careers, ranging from an undergraduate creative writing student to a prize-winning author who has been publishing for over thirty years. Through these interviews, the impact of the pandemic on writing was explored in three main areas: the impact of emotions on the writing process; the effect Covid had on conditions needed for writing; and the ability of writers to find and/or act on inspiration.

Incorporating evidence from these interviews – as well as from writing anthologies, newspaper articles, and literature relating to the pandemic – this study demonstrates that the pandemic did have a noticeable impact on writers’ creativity. Although two writers wrote more during lockdown, nearly all described the negative impact emotions had on their ability and/or motivation to write. Where the pandemic disrupted the conditions they need to write, writers wrote nothing, or significantly less than pre-pandemic; writers whose children lived with them during this time were most affected. Some noticed a negative correlation between finding/acting on inspiration and social distancing restrictions. Writers reflected on the impact of the pandemic and were able to identify positive and negative aspects that were a result of the restrictions, such as the benefits in terms of inclusion at literary events. The findings presented in the final section show the importance of learning from and recording the pandemic through writing.
Date of Award11 Jun 2024
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of St Andrews
SupervisorJohn Burnside (Supervisor)


  • Creative writing
  • Covid-19
  • Lockdown
  • Pandemic
  • Writer's block
  • Creativity
  • Pro-c creativity
  • Fiction
  • Writers
  • Writing

Access Status

  • Full text embargoed until
  • 14 December 2028

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