When the extent of the Covid-19 pandemic started to become apparent, and the prospect of going into “lockdown” began to loom, I realised that many people I knew were worried about being isolated at home.
That’s when I got the idea to try to do something to help. I wrote Lockdown Living: 101 Ways to Stay Positive During the Pandemic over the course of a few weeks in late March and early April. It was published today and is available on Amazon here.
It’s a light-hearted approach to staying busy and feeling productive when your world’s been turned upside-down by a once-in-a-century pandemic. Like the title suggests, my book’s got 101 tips, tasks and tactics to help you cope with self-isolation.
There’s everything from picking up that instrument in the corner, to discovering podcasts, to learning to use new technology to stay in touch, to getting off the sofa and onto your bicycle.
(9 December, 2020) A late-comer to stand-up comedy has won a prestigious national comedy award. Christchurch resident Laura Bruce was last night voted ‘South Island Newcomer’ by members of the New Zealand Comedy Guild at its 2020 awards gala.
Bruce has become a regular on the Christchurch stand-up comedy circuit, performing up to five times a week since relocating to the Garden City from the Scottish Highlands in mid-2019.
Career in corporate communications
Prior to emigrating to New Zealand, Bruce spent two decades in corporate communications, wrote a monthly column on business communications for Scottish magazine Executive, and hosted a weekly radio program.
“Working in communications trained me to be precise, and concise,” she noted. “Turns out those qualities are also crucial to comedy!”
Toastmasters International helped with stand-up
A member of Christchurch Women’s Toastmasters club in Papanui, she credits the public speaking organisation Toastmasters International with giving her the confidence to fulfil her dream to perform stand-up comedy. She has been a Toastmaster since 2014.
A Canadian who lived in the UK for many years, Laura has won a number of Toastmasters public speaking competitions. In May, her tongue-in-cheek speech about the emergence of virtual assistants including ‘Alexa’ and ‘Siri’, won her the New Zealand Toastmasters’ Humourous Speech contest.
“I absolutely love writing and performing stand-up,” she noted. “Winning this award from the Comedy Guild is an absolute thrill. I can’t wait to get out into new cities on both the North and South Islands and stretch my wings.”
Christchurch author Laura Bruce has been nominated for a comedy award. She is nominated for ‘South Island Newcomer’ in the New Zealand Comedy Guild Awards 2020.
An aspiring Christchurch stand-up comedian who used her time in lockdown to write a book to help others has just been shortlisted for a New Zealand comedy award.
Laura Bruce has been nominated in the ‘South Island Newcomer’category for the 2020 New Zealand Comedy Guild awards.
In March, Bruce was South Island Runner-Up in New Zealand’s biggest comedy competition,the Raw Comedy Quest.
Canadian export to New Zealand seized performing opportunities
Bruce is an ex-pat Canadian who emigrated to New Zealand in 2019. She has seized the opportunity in Christchurch to perform up to five times each week during the past year. “Having previously lived in a nearly “comedy-free” community in the north of Scotland, it’s a privilege to now live somewhere rich with opportunities to perform. That has really enabled me to develop as a stand-up.”
From businesswoman and columnist to aspiring stand-up
A late-comer to comedy, Laura spent more than two decades in corporate communications in Canada, Northern Ireland, and Scotland. An accomplished businesswoman, she wrote a regular column on business communications for Scottish magazine Executive. In 2016 she was named “Shining Star” by the Highland Business Women for her contributions to business and her community. These included mentoring other businesswomen.
#CoronaCoffee: Daily Facebook Lives to keep spirits up
Since the pandemic emerged, Bruce has hosted a ‘Facebook Live’ broadcast every day since New Zealand went into lockdown March 26. Dubbed #CoronaCoffee, she has continuedthe broadcasts after lockdown ended in NZ, as a means to help friends and family around the world.
“We have been incredibly fortunate here in New Zealand to escape the worst of the pandemic. I really feel for people living elsewhere who are having to repeatedly isolate to avoid contagion.
“I decided to write ‘Lockdown Living’ in March, when I discovered two close friends in distant parts of the world were each very distressed at the prospect of being stuck at home in lockdown. The book is filled with ideas to help you keep positive while also using the time to develop some new talents – including stand-up comedy!”
5-star reviews and heartfelt praise
“I’ve had wonderful feedback from readers around the world. Between the book, which offers practical tips to help you stay positive, and my daily #coronacoffee broadcasts, I hope my efforts have lightened the burden people are feeling as a consequence of the pandemic.”
I was delighted that the Lockdown Living book has been featured on a podcast. In early May, I was hosted on the U.S.-based podcast, the “Book More Show” with Stuart Bell. Wow, there were some terrific ideas generated in our discussion! Many thanks to Stuart for hosting me, and for his great insights!
Among the highlights:
From ‘zero to book’ in less than four weeks!
We spoke about how the book came about in fewer than 30 days! In the space of about three weeks, I got the idea for the book, brainstormed the content and then developed an outline. Finally I wrote the book, and then delivered it to the world with the help of 90 Minute Books. They did all the complicated technical stuff — including the formatting and layout, and getting the book onto the Amazon and Kindle platforms. Their designer Glen also developed the cover design.
This was a great experience of me focussing on the parts of the process where my unique skills could come to the fore. I enjoyed having someone else to do all the things I don’t know how to do or don’t want to do.
Ways the book can have a life after the pandemic.
Chatting with Stuart reminded me that I have a 40,000-word draft of a book about PR and marketing. It’s sitting on the shelf. Knowing what I know now, I can get that book out into the world. There, it can start helping the owners of bricks-and-mortar businesses.
Creating an audiobook version of Lockdown Living.
Stuart suggested that I create an audiobook. He said it would be a valuable asset to the suite of Lockdown Living iterations. The book is currently in paperback, Kindle, and Apple Book. I am working on that now. Stay tuned for news of the audiobook version of Lockdown Living!
I was cruising along just fine before the pandemic. Doing a bit of consulting here, some PR there, and indulging my passion for stand-up comedy with up to 6 open mics each week.
Everything was just fine.
Then came the coronavirus, and it kicked my ass!
I’m not saying I became ill. Not in the least. I was — and still am, thankfully — okay. The ass-kicking was metaphorical.
When Covid-19 came to town, I realised I hadn’t actually accomplished a whole lot. There was the 40,000-word draft manuscript — a PR handbook for business owners — sitting on my hard drive. Since the conclusion of my two-week writing retreat in 2017, it simply felt too daunting to finish and publish.
There was the online course in writing press releases. I couldn’t get my head around the tech. And there was the multitude of ideas for comedy — scripts, sketches, podcasts, maybe even a solo show. But nothing had gotten off the starting line.
Covid-19 had shown me the sad truth: I was a bit of a coward.
I had no problem stepping into the spotlight, putting my work on display when I was confident it was highly polished. But so many half-efforts, languishing on the shelf!
This time was different. We went into “lockdown” here in New Zealand on March 26. Less than a month later, on April 22, I published my first book.
From getting out in the backyard gardening, to discovering podcasts, from picking up the musical instrument you already own, to sitting down and brainstorming a plot for your first novel, there’s something for everyone.
Feedback has been resoundingly positive, and I’m hoping the book is helpful to people around the world. It emphasises taking a fresh look at the resources most of us already have in-house — like projects we have put on the back burner, or musical instruments sitting collecting dust — rather than focussing on what we don’t have and can’t access. It encourages us to pick up these projects, and bring them to life.
You could say I took my own advice during lockdown. I focussed on what I had in-house — a computer and a head full of ideas to keep busy. It’s enabled me to conquer the demon of a half-finished book, and actually take something to completion.
I’m prouder than ever that I managed to publish my first book.
My question to you is, what’s languishing on your shelf, collecting dust? Can you use this time to transform it into something to be proud of?
“Clever, helpful, and at times droll! Strongly recommend.”
Barbara E, Manhattan, USA.
“Written by a friend in a light-hearted, often humorous fashion, this book offers a ‘one-a-day’ task option to keep you occupied during the current stay-at-home requirement. Flip it open to any page and say to yourself, ‘Today I am going to do this!” Brilliant!”
Janny P. Ottawa, Canada.
“A brilliant work by my friend Laura Bruce. You’re locked-down. We’re in this together. This is the book to buy for your best friends – because you’re in this together.”
Paul O’M, Cork, Ireland.
“The book is fun! Easy read and comical. Highly recommend it.”
Shirley C., Port Colborne, Canada
“This book is really a hoot! It is filled with practical, down-to-earth advice which makes you smile at the same time. After reading all 101 tips, I challenge you to still be bored. Just reading the book should get you out of the lockdown blues! And Hookers rock – we are even at No 2 in the book.”