Permission to Rest, Read and Grow as a Writer

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The advice in my planner this morning, as I sat down at my desk with the window open, listening to the birdsong in the garden, was ‘Become less connected to the outcome and more committed to the work‘ attributed to Iman Europe. Strangely, this is something I had already been thinking about this week. I feel that stepping back a little from what was a frantic work schedule has given me the space and time to grow into my own writing. Seeing the advice in the planner felt very much like one of those fate moments in which a path that you are following is confirmed to be the right direction by something or someone stepping in to your life at just the right time. Chris and I have both been suffering with Covid this week. Not seriously, but enough to force me to spend time in bed reading rather than working. I’ve been reading Tanya Shadrick’s The Cure for Sleep and recognising parts of myself in it. Not in the parts about the journey through motherhood, though I would hope that if Matilda had lived I would have found my own way though it and grown as a person, but rather the later life revelation of the creative impulse, the casting off of what was expected in order to be something else, the falling off the cliff-of-reality sensation of death, being near death and the unrelenting truth that life is so short, not a day must be wasted somehow juxtaposed alongside the need to find a way of living slowly. I have been forced by the virus to live slowly this week, doing the bare minimum of work and then retreating to bed, propped up with pillows and surrounded by tissues and tea and books while the seagulls drifted past and the birds sang in the garden. It reminded me how much I am in need of this peace-time, and what it does for my own writing. I am a better writer when I slow down and embrace the process, rather than reaching for the end of the project. I managed to get a good week of writing done in the week before covid, days in which I wrote from morning to lunch and then worked in the afternoon, and it was good. Nourishing. The rest of the month is going to be ruled by work, but I got a good draft of a chapter done on the non fiction book and felt like I was making real process.

Next week I’ll be busy running my my online writing retreat. I’ve had a couple of last minute cancellations, so there are places still available. It’s going to be a relatively small group, and that is something I am really looking forward to. To give yourself permission to settle in and write with others, to give yourself permission to put yourself and your writing first is so important. I’ll be joined through the week by Steve Nash, Caleb Parkin, and Kim Moore, all experts in their fields and ready to help you get to where you want to be with your writing. And as well as workshops and readings from all of the above, we’ve got Naush Sabah giving a reading too. We’re going to be doing early morning writing groups, writing in response to the nature table and I have to say that the workshops that the guest facilitators have lined up look incredible. The winter retreat was a nourishing experience, a chance to connect in the darkness with like minded writers. I think the spring retreat will be a chance to connect again, as we emerge from that darkness into a spring of small joys in a world of chaos and pain. I know I need that right now.

If you want to find out more about it and download the full programme, it’s here: Spring Writing Retreat

One of the good things about it is that it’s entirely online, so you don’t need to even leave your house and there’s no pressure to attend everything in the plan, come to the ones you want, the ones that work around your life. I hope to see you there.

Until next time


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